Veteran actors Ananth Mahadevan, Rakesh Bedi clash on stage in a cricket frenzy
An upcoming play, Last Over, looks at what happens when a cricket match triggers a domestic war among two fans of the sport.art and culture Updated: Jul 15, 2017 17:01 IST
A newly married couple, Zubaina Kazmi from Pakistan and Sunny Arora from India, has happily settled down in London, UK. They lead a peaceful life, but their fathers suddenly show up at their house so they can watch the India-Pakistan World Cup finals live at the Lord’s Ground stadium. However, the fathers’ plans go awry when they can’t get any tickets, and in their quest to somehow manage a ticket, they turn their children’s world upside down.
Veteran theatre actor Rakesh Bedi, who plays the role of a Punjabi father in the play, says the concept compelled him to be a part of the drama. Bedi says, “Last Over is a unique play. There was an India-Pakistan cricket final going on too [when we were rehearsing for the play]. At that time, we didn’t know that India and Pakistan would reach the finals of the Champion’s Trophy. The play is based in London, where people are dying to see a game. It shows the kind of madness that exists for a cricket match between India and Pakistan. Also, I felt that I’ll be on my home ground. I’m a Punjabi, so I know how Punjabis behave. I know how adamant they can become if they want something. And the sweetness of the whole play [also made me take it up].”
According to Ananth Mahadevan, who plays the role of the father of Kazmi, the name of the play, Last Over, signifies much more than just the last over of a cricket match. “The play is about how cricket is the metaphor of life. The last over literally doesn’t mean the last over. It could mean so many things in life. It could be the last chance to probably rectify something that has gone wrong, or it could be a last chance to achieve a goal. So, in this play, the last over means the last six minutes or the last six balls, which matter the most. So when these two fathers from India and Pakistan find out that their children have gotten married, instead of the cricket match, they get embroiled in their domestic issue so badly that they end up creating a royal mess. So it’s a nice fusion of the cricket metaphor and life itself.”
Cricket mixed with drama
Was the popularity of cricket in India that made the writers pick it over other sports to tell the story? Mahadevan says, “I’m a fan of all sports. But as cricket is extremely popular and is covered widely in the media, one tends to be more exposed to it. But I would cheer for our hockey team too, or for that matter our women’s cricket team. However, cricket is much more than just its popularity. I think connecting a ball with a bat is like life itself — focusing on the speed or the variation with which a ball comes into your life. It’s about how you handle situations that you encounter. Do you hit it out of the park or do you get stumped or bowled? Cricket has connotations with life, and that is why cricket fascinates me more.”
This will be Mahadevan’s first Hindi play after a long time, and the actor is glad to be working on a proper Hindustani play, as he finds it “challenging”. “When they came up with this show with Rakesh Bedi, I thought that it had been a long time since I have done a Hindi play. And mine is a Pakistani character who has to speak Urdu. The last Hindi-Urdu play or Hindustani play [that I had done] was Hum Kahein Aap Suney, with Nadira Zaheer Babbar, which was based on Dastangoi. It was about speech and language,” says the actor.
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