An age-old Parsi eatery announces that it’s going to shut down. Soon, media houses start speculating about the reasons and publish reams of stories glorifying the outlet and its rich history. In no time, people start queuing up outside the restaurant — as early as 5 am — to devour that final batch of Mawa Cakes. After a few months of this rush, endless rumours and media attention, the café reopens.
Though this story may sound familiar to you, Silly Point Productions’ theatre writer-director Meherzad Patel claims that their new drama, SodaBottleOpenerWala, is a fictional account, and the fact that its protagonist is called Merwan is a mere coincidence.
“I don’t know what happened with the Merwans. They are all wonderful people. The play is just my version of what could have happened. Moreover, it’s a layered, slapstick comedy. There’s more to the play than just the café shutting down. The play is a family entertainer, and will actually give you a glimpse of what happens inside a Parsi kitchen,” says Patel.
The multilingual play delves into serious themes like the west’s influence on today’s generation, the bane of urbanisation, greed for money and redevelopment. Over the course of the performance, family tensions aggravate, and there’s a split leading to two separate cafés being opened. This results in an innovative stage set-up. “As the plot progresses, with the brothers fighting and asking for their own share, we break the stage into two halves signifying two independent cafés,” says Patel.
Incidentally, Danesh Irani, who acts in this play, also happens to have sung the unofficial anthem for a popular restaurant in Gurgaon called SodaBottleOpenerWala. Now, to promote the play, the makers have recreated that song along with a video. Type in the words, ‘Do the Dhansak: SodaBottleOpenerWala’, and check the video out on YouTube.
For the love of food
For the premiere of the play, there will be a special Parsi menu available at the canteen of the venue — Sophia Bhabha Auditorium, Breach Candy — with staple favourites like Mawa Cakes, Bun Maska, Raspberry drink and more on offer.