Theatre Review: Five Point Someone
It was certainly enjoyable, and unlike the film, the stage adaptation was more or less faithful to Bhagat and far more hilarious than Three Idiots. A lot of humour was subtle and not the kind of...art and culture Updated: Mar 31, 2010 12:49 IST
Cast: Vaisakh Shankar, Naveen Richard, Yudhishthir Rana, Avinash Rajendran, Mamta Bhisht, Devarajan, Sonu and Anand Nagarker. Direction: Sunil Vishnu
Most film buffs are now familiar with Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone, a piece of fiction (or is it fictionalised fact?) that centres on life at the Indian Institute of Management. It became some kind of rage after it was filmed into Three Idiots, and the controversy it created between Bhagat and the movie producer.
So, one would have thought that the theatrical version of the book, also titled Five Point Someone, would not attract much attention. However, when Chennai-based Evam, put up several shows of the play in the city recently, the auditorium was packed. It was certainly enjoyable, and unlike the film, the stage adaptation was more or less faithful to Bhagat and far more hilarious than Three Idiots.
A lot of humour was subtle and not the kind of crass buffoonery we saw in the Aamir Khan starrer. Vaisakh Shankar as the “sutradar” or Hari Senior not only helped push the rather longish story forward with explanations that linked the scenes, but also interjected his narration with sheer wit. Sitting outside the arena of action, he commented with the wisdom of hindsight. Sometimes, jocularly, sometimes with the twitch of his eyebrow and sometimes emotionally. The cast, including the young Hari – as he goes through the trials of romance with Professor Cherian’s daughter, Neha, and the torture of having to get rid of the title, dunce, slapped on him – performed in step with the narrator’s thread.
The play’s central character is Hari junior, not the brilliant and casual Ryan (that Khan portrayed in the movie as Rancho), and the underdog is Alok, burdened with a bedridden father and a sister who cannot marry because there is not enough dowry to throw. He conveys some of the most touching moments on stage, but then Five Point Someone is not really an emotional journey. Rather, it is adventure and mischief on a potholed road called IIT, a symbol of arrogance (Listen to a professor asking a student whether he was from the commerce stream.). It is about desperation to achieve the almost impossible, getting caught in the middle of the night stealing a question paper, fumbling to kiss your sweetheart, and trying to tell your girl’s dad that you accidently bumped into her in her own bedroom.
Performances were uniformly above average, though Shankar, with an uncanny resemblance to Bhagat, certainly stole the show with his quirky expressions and splendid voice modulation. A fine effort, though some of his story-telling got a trifle disturbed by the constant change of props. Was this really necessary?