BY MAHADEV DESAI
Atlanta’s well known B4U entrepreneur Nadir Jiwani organized a scintillating super-hit Gujarati Comedy play, ‘Masti ma marriage, marriage ma masti’ by Mumbai-based Balivala Theaters at the Berkmar High school auditorium, on Saturday, February 7.Nadirbhai firmly believes in offering top notch quality shows to the community. Only recently he has staged highly popular and entertaining ‘Bapushahi Dairo’ and first-ever world renowned Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s live –in concert.
In a brief interview, soft spoken, and modest but seasoned thespian Firoz Bhagat informed this writer that he has been active on stage for over 32 years. This is the Group’s third visit to Atlanta. In 2003, it staged the play ‘Adhura madhura’; in 2008 another play ‘Kem chho, majama?’ and now Masti ma marriage, marriage ma masti’.The Group has traveled to Dubai, parts of Africa, and England and a few other spots. This year, they arrived in the U.S. on January 16 and will be performing about 41 shows.The Group will be in the U.S.till May 15. They have already been to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago etc. “In the past, we have staged many successful plays because we firmly believe in pushing the boundaries and don’t like to be pigeonholed into plays with predictable plots. Our plays are not only entertaining but also deal with pertinent social issues. They also offer glimpses into rich Gujarati culture and traditions.” Commenting about Masti ma marriage, marriage ma masti he said, “We are very fortunate to have famed Apara Mehta in the lead role. She is an acclaimed actor who has performed in highly popular TV serials for the past ten years. Her daughter, 22 year old Khushali Jariwala, who is debuting in the play, conceptualized the story, later written by Pravin Solanki. We have another riveting play ‘Tu ane hoon-pachhi joiye shoo’. We might offer this play next year or re- perform ‘adhura madhura’ due to public demand. The audience here is very engaging, receptive and warm hearted, so we always enjoy performing our plays here. So please sit back and enjoy the show.”
The innovative and commendable feature of the show were brief slide- shows at the beginning and during interval, on a stage-screen, recognizing and conveying thanks to all the sponsors, supporters, volunteers and media representatives.
The bubbly, breezy, laugh-a-minute play began with Aneri(Khushali Jariwala) who has returned from abroad and met with a boy-friend Umang(Devashish Savani) at a party returns home and announces her decision to marry Umang. Her possessive father Rahul Zaveri(Firoz Bhagat) and mother Mini(Apara Mehta) try to dissuade her as they feel that she is too young to take the plunge and shoulder all the responsibilities of a married woman. But Aneri is adamant and introduces Umang to her parents. Soon Umang’s parents also visit Aneri’s parents. Umang’s mother Radha(Vaishali Trivedi) is snobbish and prim trying to impress with her English malapropisms. This rapid fire slaughter of English words-and verbal exchanges between Zaveri and her had audience in stitches.Umang’s father Radhaswami(Kamlesh Daru) adds to the comedy with his habit of concluding every sentence with ‘shoo?’ Prithvi (Nayan Shukla) also plays an endearing role flitting in and out of Aneri’s home delivering exciting tidbits to Maya(Neha Pakai) and family members. The dance by three pairs on the stage is also very amusing.The story unfolds at a brisk pace. Zaveri tries to thwart the planned marriage but Aneri and Umang still manage to get secretly engaged. Zaveri tries to persuade priest/astrologer to inform Umang’s parents that marriage will be doomed. But the greedy astrologer does the opposite. But just when marriage preparations are being discussed between the two families, there is a twist in the plot. Umang and his parents suspect that Zaveri and Mini are not married and just living together. Radha insists that Aneri’s biological father give away the bride at the wedding. The play becomes poignant and heart tugging at this stage. Zaveri, Mini and Aneri talk about parents love, sanctity of marriage, moral values etc. The time-tested institution of marriage is scared. It is not merely a contract on a piece of paper but an eternal bond calling for mutual sacrifice, love and trust. The play ends on a happy note.
Firoz thanked Nadirbhai and Mustafabhai, and introduced the cast to thunderous applause.
Nadirbhai thanked national promoter Bhavna Modi,Firoz Bhagat and Apara Mehta for their immense help in staging the play in Atlanta and went on to thank all the sponsors, family and friends, well wishers and volunteers Sharad Patel, Sanjay Patel, Upendra Bhatt, Vishnu Trivedi, Darshan Shah(photography), Mubarak,members of the audience and the media.
Mustafabhai who over the years has played an immense role in bringing choice Gujarati plays for the Atlanta community thanked Firoz and troupe for presenting a highly entertaining play and making it a memorable event. He wished them all the best and safe trip on remaining itinerary.
Apara Mehta concluded the show by recognizing Firoz who is producer, director and actor in this rib-tickling comedy as well as emotive social drama powerfully delivered. Stage lighting and mood enhancing sound by Mehul Joshi are also commendable.
This highly entertaining play is a ‘must see’ play. So please go for it and also recommend it to other theatre fans. It is a very rare treat !