Bonding over a cuppa is the most popular way for a couple to spend some quality time together. But what happens when two couples facing serious issues have neither the time nor the inclination to enjoy a brew? In walks a porter who claims to solve their differences by offering them a blank photo frame and charging a refundable fee of Rs 100.
What follows is a series of twists and turns that finally helps the couples to solve their simmering issues. This forms the crux of Marathi theatre group Astitva’s award-winning play Ae, Apan Chaha Ghyayacha Ka?, which will be staged at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) as part of Marathi Vishesh, an initiative to promote Marathi theatre at the tony cultural venue.
Producer Ravi Mishra explains that though on the surface the play revolves around two couples, it explores several issues. “It is a black comedy that focusses on the clash between two sections of society — those who are rational and the others who are superstitious. In the first half, Hamal (the porter) seems to be the most practical and positive person who has a profound solution for the couple’s problems. He asks them to worship the blank frame every day together. The couples believe him blindly and over a period of time they resolve their issues as they spend time together performing this act.”
However, Mishra adds, the twist comes in the second half when the porter comes to claim the frame and skeletons tumble out of his closet. “The audiences realises that Hamal has his own issues, for instance, his wife doesn’t like him resolving others’ problems at the cost of ignoring his own family and urges him to give up this task.”
Written by Cham. Pra. Deshpande, a renowned Marathi author who has penned several hard-hitting plays dealing with off-beat themes like infidelity and extra marital affairs in the 1980s, Ae, Apan Chaha Ghyayacha Ka?, is performed by a young cast. Mishra adds the challenge for them was to get the character’s nuances right.
Ask him what prompted his troupe to pick up this story for the play and he replies, “We can resolve all our issues with a little understanding but surprisingly that seems to be missing today. Also every cloud has a silver lining but we end up focusing so much on the negative aspects that we forget the good things in our life.”