BY MAHADEV DESAI
India American Cultural Association (IACA) along with Sanatan Mandir organized a scintillating super-hit Gujarati comedy play, “Patni Saddhar to Pati Addhar”, sponsored by Manikant Patel, Gujarati Samaj of New York and performed by Mumbai-based Khel Rangara Group at the IACA auditorium on Friday, April 8.
In a brief interview, seasoned comedy queen Pratima T. informed this writer that Khel Rangara Group, founded in 1978 has performed over 2,000 shows of this entertaining comedy that has been staged in London, East and South Africa, Europe, Dubai and Singapore. The most widely traveled Group has performed many Gujarat plays in the US since 1985, and this is its 62nd trip. This time the Group has already performed 14 shows in the past two weeks and expects to perform 45 shows by the end of May this year. The comedy has been written and directed by the late Sri Bimal Mangaliya, who sadly passed away on 1st February 2010. Sri Mangaliya, a prolific writer, has written over 130 plays with diverse themes. Pratima complimented Jitu Kotak, for his stellar role not only as an actor but also as a Tour organizer and marketing manager. Jitu has been with the Group for the past 20 years.
The Group has won many accolades but the crowning one was in 2005 when Khel Rangara Group, along with Pratima T. and Jitu Kotak had the singular honor to be recognized by the British House of Commons. Pratima also lauded seasoned and versatile TV, film and stage actor Ishwarbhai Patel who has been with the Group for the past 40 years. And she commended cast members Urvish Parikh, Neha Panchal and Mitwa Asar who are also active in film, T/V serials and plays. “Our plays are not only entertaining but also deal with pertinent social issues and family values. They also offer glimpses into rich Gujarati culture and traditions. The audience here is very engaging, receptive and warm hearted, so we always enjoy performing our plays here.”
The attendees prior to the performance of the play relished a sumptuous dinner prepared by the volunteers.
After Sanatan Mandir of Atlanta’s President Bharat Kotecha welcomed all and recognized IACA President Sneha Mehta, Acharya Pramod Padhiji recited shlokas to bless the event. Kotecha thanked all the sponsors of the event and exhorted all to attend IACA’s events and support them as much as they can. “Always find an excuse or reason to support us,” he said. Sneha Mehta thanked the audience for its support and requested them to attend the ‘Sargam Musical Night” at the IACA auditorium on April 30.
The plot is simple. The play begins with villagers Ratni (Pratima T.) and Hero (Jitu Kotak), who are deeply in love and are already engaged; they poke fun at Radhika (Mitwa Asar) who is looking for a suitable boy to marry. Hero leaves Ratni behind and moves to Mumbai where he finds a job with old, white-bearded, stingy widower Dolatrai Sheth (Ishwar Patel). Sheth is a hard taskmaster who piles on office work as well as domestic chores on Hero. His daughter, lonesome Kirti (Neha Panchal) is dating Kiran (Urvish Parikh), son of Sheth’s business rival. Radhika gets married and Ratni who is feeling lonely in the village arrives at the Sheth residence and she too finds job as a maid. Kirti becomes pregnant and Sheth is naturally upset and angry. Ratni suggests that Sheth should get her married to a poor, illiterate orphan and pack them off to Dubai. Sheth who is unable to find a match suddenly thinks of marrying Kirti to Hero. Hero who, is dreaming of inheriting Sheth’s fortune agrees readily. Ratni is livid with Hero, who tries to dump her. Ratni outwits Hero by tempting and teasing Sheth who agrees to leave his fortune to her if she marries him. Readers are requested to go watch the play to find out how Ratni wins back Hero and helps Kiran and Kirti tie the nuptial knot. The play ends on a happy note.
Pratima T. commands the stage in this bubbly, breezy, laugh-a-minute comedy. She regales the audience with her rib-tickling one-liners and her impromptu interaction with the audience. She displays the depth of her acting talent in poignant and heart tugging scene when Hero tries to dump her. She endears to the audience with her wisecracks, like “Don’t go to the US,” she tells Hero; “it is only for Patels who can run hotels and motels.” “Kanjibhai lost crores selling petrol but made crores selling milk,” she tells Sheth.” “How come?” asks Sheth. “Well, because you can’t add water to petrol.” “Let’s have lots of children, so we can form our own IPL Team,” she quips. Long-standing and talented stage actors Jitu Kotak and Ishwar Patel also give brilliant performances. Urvish, Mitwa, Neha and Sam Patel (a brief appearance as Bhai) have smaller roles but give impressive performances. Sam Patel is also the Group Manager and Tour Manager.
Jitu Kotak, on behalf of Khel Rangara Group, thanked IACA and the audience for inviting the Group to help raise funds for the Sanatan Mandir of Atlanta. He said the group enjoyed performing the comedy show and then introduced the cast to thunderous applause. He commended Pratima T., the superstar Comedy Queen, who in 1992 earned the sobriquet “Lady Amitabh” for her acting prowess and long career on stage.
Pratima T. also thanked the audience and paid a tribute to the memory of the late Guru Sri Bimal Mangaliya, the acclaimed Gujarati stage’s actor, producer, writer and director. She appealed to the audience to recommend the comedy show to their family members, friends, relatives and various Associations. “Laughter is the best medicine and comedy is good for your health,” she ended on a cheery note
Bharat Kotecha thanked all the sponsors, family and friends, well-wishers and volunteers, members of the audience and the media.
Kudos to Sanatan Mandir and IACA for organizing one of the most highly entertaining and memorable comedies, which is a ‘must see’ comedy. So please go for it and also recommend it to other theatre fans. It is a very rare treat indeed!