Ashvin Gidwani is the man behind productions such as City of Dreams, Blame It On Yashraj, History Of India, and The Alchemist among others. So when he reveals he has directed his first venture, we are intrigued. The Scent of a Man made its debut in Pune recently, and Gidwani is all ready to showcase it in Mumbai on November 10 at NCPA. “I have helped a lot of my directors over the years. There are times I have been asked to take over from them. But this is my debut as a director,” he says.
The adult comedy starring Ash Chandler, Suchitra Pillai, Bhavna Pani and Deven Khote, is a concept Gidwani had been toying with for nine years. Set in present day Mumbai, the action centres on two married couples; Mallika and Nikhil, and Ananya and Partho. “In any relationship, monotony sets in after some years and that’s when the devil tells you to indulge. And when you do that, the situation explodes,” explains Gidwani.
According to cast of the play, it’s the witty and often naughty lines, that are the highlight of the play. Chandler, the stand-up comedian, whom we trust to know the funny from the fluff, is extravagant in his praise for the script. “I laughed my head off when I read the play for the first time,” he says. Known for writing his own lines when he does stand-up comedy, did he contribute to the writing? “No, the play is almost perfect the way it is, but as an actor, you do bring in nuances of your own,” he adds. Pani, who plays Ananya in the play, believes her character is one of the funniest she has ever come across. The actress, who has worked in So Many Socks, a serious play about freedom for Tibet, says she realised that the process for a play, whether serious or comic, remains the same. “You need to have a natural flair for comedy, as it’s all about reacting. When the person giving you the stimulus is good, your work becomes that much easier,” she says.
Pillai and Khote, too, have only words of praise for the rest of the cast. “To have comic timing with somebody makes it much easier if you gel off stage as well,” believes Pillai. As for Khote who returned to theatre after more than 20 years, the cast made the transition that much easier. “The other three are extremely sorted and accomplished performers. We learnt off each other,” he says. With the reception to the Pune show being positive, Gidwani is sure that the Mumbai audience too, will be receptive to it. “We have a couple of shows in Delhi at Habitat Centre which is holy ground for me, and then in Mumbai at NCPA, which is again holy ground. I’m really looking forward to it,” he says. We’re guessing, so are the audience.
WHEN: November 10, 6 pm
WHERE: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point