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Theater Review: Massage

Rakesh Bedi brought to life Vijay Tendulkar's play Massage on stage. He wore 24 hats with finesse. The audience gave the actor a well-deserved standing ovation at the culmination of the play.

art and culture Updated: Apr 19, 2010 19:04 IST
Anjali Dawar
Anjali Dawar
Hindustan Times

Rakesh BediPlay:Massage

Genre: Comedy (Hindi)

Actor: Rakesh Bedi

Director: Harbans Singh

Group: Pierrot's Troupe

Staged: Sri Ram Centre, Mandi House

Rating: ****

Oftentimes what's on the flyer doesn't come through on the stage. The leaflet posed a rhetoric question: "If Rakesh Bedi and Pierrot's Troupe join hands, then what is most likely to happen? A Fabulous Comedy." On Sunday, April 18 this flyer was bang on. It proved to be one heck of a fabulous evening.

The first moment through the last, one just sat with abated breath. The performances were magical. All 24 hats that Rakesh Bedi donned, were lucid and alive. He is a master craftsman who can give any comedic a run for his money. Clad in dark green kurta, white pyjamas and black sandals; Rakesh Bedi with his balding head, bespectacled face and immense talent won Delhi's heart.

We caught up with the actor and he disclosed that the show that we saw wasn't the first one. Delhi audience had forced the actor to perform prior to the real thing also. So by the time we saw him in action at the stipulated show time of 7:30pm, he'd already performed once at 4:30 the same evening. Both shows - houseful. And energy level - electric.

He played all the characters with finesse - Kohli saab, the producer with his idiosyncratic Punjabi mannerisms, Cabinet Minister's PA with his slurred speech, the watchman at the production house, the stranger at the bus stop who makes 'Happy' sad, the narrator and without a doubt Happy Singh, the lead. Also heroine's mummyji who molests the lead in the music room, the sexy bar girl and the girl who auditions him for the lead role of Chanakya are all noteworthy. The play was colour writing in action. You could picture the scenes that Bedi narrated. So if he said that he was commuting with mantiji's driver, or climbing the staircase of his chawl, or massaging Mrs Kohli's dark bare back you could sense and 'see' it - all of it.

There were other aids too that the actor used deftly- lampoon, toilet humour, political satire, slapstick, caricaturing communities, putting to use Ghalib's poetry et al. He maneuvered from one character to the other with ease. It's only at the intermission that the depth of his talent sinks in. Because till then there's not a single moment when you can think. You just laugh and laugh. The change in Delhi's audience is not lost on the actor, he said "the Delhi audience has indeed matured, the ticket-buying culture has now taken root."

Toward the end there's a sequence where Happy Singh is reading a letter left him by his wife. He didn't use a prop. Upon being asked why, he said "in the original play there wasn't any letter, and audience would ask me as to why Shanta leaves, and I had no answer, so I introduced this bit." And when asked why he doesn't use the aid of prop, he says "then I should keep a phone and bring a bus stop on the stage too" When we wonder aloud about how he makes it seem so effortless, the pro says it's all about "hard work". In a humourous vein he quips, "when Sachin hits a six, everyone applauds, but we forget the effort, the tapasya that must have gone into it."

Quizzed whether he feels that his Shriman Shrimati and Yes Boss have helped redefine comedy on small screen, the actor is evasive and humble, he says "I wouldn't know about that, I wouldn't say so, in whatever I do, I just try to create humour." That he does indeed, and with effortless ease too. The audience gave the actor a well-deserved standing ovation at the culmination of the two-hour play.

Direction of Massage was impeccable, stage lighting impressive and this is another winner from Pierrot's Troupe's stable. Only sometimes the audio seemed a bit off, that certainly requires a tweak.

First Published: Apr 19, 2010 13:09 IST