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NRI theatre group playing the part

Saakaar is a forerunner among organisations committed to propagating the legacy of Indian culture, writes Meeta Chaitanya.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 17:20 IST
ATLANTA DIARY | Meeta Chaitanya
ATLANTA DIARY | Meeta Chaitanya

The not for profit, Atlanta based Indian theatre group Saakaar is a forerunner among organisations committed to propagating the legacy of Indian culture in foreign shores.

Formally founded in 2003, Saakaar has made its mark on the Atlanta-Indian cultural montage by staging a slew of plays for drama enthusiasts, very often adapted from popular plays in English.

This group of theatre lovers is a charity and community development oriented organisation that has presented in the past, hugely successful performances like The Mouse Trap, Ek Tha Gadha, Rumours, Ballabhpur Ki Roopkatha, and The Odd Couple.

The Mouse Trap staged in October last year in particular had audiences riveted quite like its beloved English original by Agatha Christie that since its debut in London in 1952 has become the longest running play in history.

Saakaar's latest offering; Khoob Milayi Jodi follows this line of talented stage craft and is being performed in Atlanta over a period of two weeks at several convenient metro locations.

This latest play, directed by one of the founders of Saakaar, Anurag Misraraj is a departure from the last performance in that it is based on Brandon Thomas' timeless classic, Charlie's Aunt, a comedy of human imperfections, quirks and love's labors translated and adapted voraciously by theater lovers the world over.

This particular rendition balances itself on not just dramatic contrivances and finely orchestrated performances but also on its clever adaptation to contemporary urban Indian setting (more specifically Mumbai).

Replete with vada pao nuances, Khoob Milayi Jodi, scripted in three acts takes a ring side view on the path of love being convoluted, confusing and endearing for that very reason.

Pairs of lovers walk onto the stage in order to work out the problems of their hearts but end up working up a rip-roaring mess of sorts.

Also, the play, pegged as one that will cater to the young and the young at heart does just that. Audiences were continually entertained by odd couplings and funny transformations.

Of special note were performances essayed by Sunny Sachdeva, Amitabh Sharma, Gaurav Bakshi, Anurag Misraraj and most significantly, Anurag Goel.

Supported by an able cast, Goel surpassed expectations as he meandered hilariously from being 'Babloo' to becoming 'Manu ki Mausi'.

Costumes and make-up could have been better though, and the chemistry between some on-stage couples was feeble.

Besides that, the palpable syntax of each scene, complimented by good stage and sound management made the performance a merry affair.

The cast and crew for Khoob Milayi Jodi has, for the past four months trapezed between their work, personal and social lives and their commitment to the production.

Most members of the group are either native to Atlanta or full-time professionals based here. Their zeal and dedication to the cause of the performing arts assumes laudable proportions in this regard.

Little wonder that Saakaar has been able to garner tremendous audience support as also sponsors as Global Mall and Nritya Natya Kala Bharti.

The romantic comedy in Hindi is reasonably priced at $20 and $10 per admission and spaced out as it is on consecutive weekends; at Emory University, Decatur on April 22 & April 23 2006, 7 pm, Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Riverdale on April 30, 2006, 4.30 pm and Berkmar High school Auditorium, Lilburn on May 6 2006, 7 pm & May 7 2006, 4 pm, drama enthusiasts are provided ample opportunities to partake of the experience as per their convenience.

Saakaar's endeavour to bring to the fore wholesome entertainment to Atlanta's Indian population has been well received primarily because of the quality of production as also time and effort that each member has invested.

Avenues for creative expression that are in fact open to any art aficionado are rarely as successful as this.

Since the group presents performances in both Indian languages as well as English, it has been able to overcome defining barriers making way instead for a more inclusive approach to drama.

As for Khoob Milayi Jodi, theatre lovers would agree that briskly executed comedy requires more than just technique and talent.

The play transitioned seamlessly from the performers' stage to the audience sphere and in doing so came alive, regaling everyone alike.

First Published: May 02, 2006 17:20 IST