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US play to benefit Mumbai's street children

In a venture combining art with heart, four benefit shows will be held of the bittersweet comedy "The Rummy Game" in aid of Mumbai's vast population of abandoned, drifting street children.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2004 15:19 IST

In a venture combining art with heart, four benefit shows will be held of the bittersweet comedy "The Rummy Game" in aid of Mumbai's vast population of abandoned, drifting street children.

The entire proceeds will go to benefit "Project Mainstream", which says it has helped 25,000 such children find a better life starting from 1994.

The project is the beginning of an epic task. For Mumbai, the seat of Bollywood glamour, also has one of the world's highest populations of street children -- estimated at one million.

Two of Mumbai's finest theatre talent star in "The Rummy Game". Sabira Merchant and Hosi Vasunia are the two card-players who exchange memories and barbs in this sadly sweet drama.

Performances are scheduled from January 29 to February 1 at the Century Centre for Performing Arts, 111 East 15th Street here. The tickets are priced at $100.

Merchant, who plays Shireen Bamboat in "The Rummy Game", hosted the popular quiz show on India's state television, "What is the Good Word", which ran for a record 15 years. She had her education in the liberal arts in Switzerland, made her debut on stage in Theatre Group's "The Word", and went on to star in "Wild Duck", "Tughlaq", "Duet for One", "The Idiot", and in many more.

Apart from her theatre work, she holds regular workshops on communication skills for managerial staff of corporate and business houses such as the Taj Group.

Vasunia, who plays Fali Pastakia in the play, has been associated with Mumbai's English language theatre for the past three decades and has since the 1980s taken his productions on tour to New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and other cities in India as also East Africa, Singapore and Dubai.

In "The Rummy Game", Pastakia, a former businessman, and Bamboat, a single mother, are thrown by circumstance together on the back porch of a nursing home, where Fali spends his days playing rummy. He teaches Bamboat to play the game and is shocked when she beats him again and again.

The game is a metaphor for the larger games the characters have been playing throughout their lives and, as they play, the ghosts of their past haunt them. As the cards are dealt out and played, their frustrations, failures and angst-filled regrets are slowly exposed.

First Published: Jan 07, 2004 15:19 IST