Twinkle Khanna's short story Noni Appa brought alive on stage by Lillette Dubey
Her parents may have named her Noureen but to everyone else, especially her 66-year-old sister Binni, she's Noni Appa. At 68, along with a hearing aid, Noni also wears rollers over her dyed hair, spends evenings playing Solitaire with whisky for company and pens duas for her sister's long life. Having witnessed marriage, children and widowhood, both sisters, though opposite in nature, share an endearing relationship tinged with jibes and banter.
(From left) Darshan Jariwala, Lillette Dubey and Jayati Bhatia in Salaam, Noni Appa
When Anandji, a yoga teacher, enters their lives, Noni finds herself drawn to the married man, a few years younger, and is torn choosing between companionship and respectability. That's the premise of Salaam, Noni Appa, a heart-warming short story that features in actor and novelist Twinkle Khanna's book, The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad, published last year.
Rishi Khurana and Meher Dar
Next week, watch it come alive in an eponymous stage adaptation produced and directed by Lillette Dubey. "I'm always in search of material in Indian writing and am sub-consciously drawn to women-oriented subjects. I enjoyed all the stories in The Legend Of Lakshmi Prasad but could relate to Salaam, Noni Appa the most, maybe because I'm getting to that stage in life. The story is charming and truthful with a wry sense of humour and sharp observations about the characters," says Dubey, who reached out to Khanna with the idea of a stage adaptation. "She was enthusiastic and open to it," she says of Khanna.
Dubey also roped in actor-playwright Adhir Bhat to adapt the text into a 90-minute English play. "We've stayed true to the story, which is a different take on love. Twinkle is also particular about the emotions that the story conveys. She read drafts of the script and offered excellent suggestions, like a few alternative endings to certain scenes," shares Bhat, who wrote the acclaimed play, Dhumrapaan.
The main challenge, he shares, was to depict the character's conflict on stage. "Unlike conventional narratives with an external conflict between characters, this one features internal conflicts. While dialogues helped verbalise the text, it's the actors who brought it alive."
Dubey, who plays Noni Appa, says, "I'm playing an everyday character after a long time. She is not dramatic at all. It reminds me of my Monsoon Wedding character." Jayati Bhatia plays her sister, Binni, and Darshan Jariwala is Anandji, the yoga teacher.
The cast also features Rishi Khurana and Meher Dar. "We have extended the roles of certain characters, like the watchman and Noni's daughter, who make a brief appearance in the book," says Dubey. So, is the play for those who may have not read the book? "Somewhere, I feel good that I've been able to offer a platform to the writing of a young, talented woman writer, and hope that more people read the book after watching the play."
On: November 3, 7.30 pm
At: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
Log on to: insider.in
Cost: '826 onwards