Sunday, April 06, 2008

Amateur Review- Mad about Money

We finally managed the Herculean effort of getting together a group of friends and also get passes (despite the near-fatalistic decision that the passes would ONLY be available at the TOI office at MG Road) to the play ‘Mad about Money’ a part of the Times Bangalore Festival 2008 offering.

The venue was the Good Shepherd Auditorium (on Museum Road) which seemed spanking new and pretty big (a board on the gate claimed seating for 110!). We reached there with half an hour to spare and were pleasantly surprised by the availability of ample free parking and the very orderly, patient queue of people waiting outside the audi.

The play started off around 15 minutes late (I hate the marketing/legal guy who came up with the “show time- 7 p.m. onwards” crap) with a sultry-voiced lady from TOI playing the MC and doing a great job of getting people laughing before the play with the evergreen Rs.10,000-hidden-under-your-chair-trick. And then without much ado started the much awaited play Mad About Money (a great preview available here)- a summary of which I quote below

Hasmukhbhai Mehta, the head of Reliable group of Industries, lives in a palatial house in Ghatkopar, with wife Sonal, son Ajit and daughter in law Preeti. He finds his son to be a wastrel and irresponsible, Preeti too nice and Sonal obsessed with cooking and feeding, thus driving him crazy.

And one night, after a heavy squabble with the family, Hasmukhbhai passes away. But his ghost lingers on to control his family from the other world! Before his demise, he has drawn out a will by which his family will lead a frugal life until Ajit turns forty-five.

As the Mehta family reconcile to their fate, in walks Kiran Jhaveri, the will’s trustee and Hasmukhbhai’s mistress, who has to stay and manage the family and the business...

The first act started with a pretty witty introduction of the plot context and characterization via longish asides narrated by Hasmukhbhai ( played by the amazing Amar Talwar). But the pace of the play built up very slowly with reams and reams of dialogue (with a few gems like "We are just middle class people, but with lots of money" thrown in) spewn to enact in excruciating details the miseries of Hasmukhhhai’s life due to the various quirks of his family.

However, the post interval second act, significantly spiced up with the entry of Kiran Jhaveri (played by the looking-great-in-business-suit+tight-pants Suchitra Pillai ), was where Dattani's plot excelled with crisp dialogues and a surgically neat closure of the various threads of the plot.

All in all- very watchable thanks to superb acting from the cast but the script leaving it short of a standing ovation.

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