Taking the right call

Updated: Oct 30, 2019, 07:42 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

Premiering this weekend, a new play by Rakesh Bedi highlights how smartphones have reduced more meaningful human interaction

A scene from the play featuring Rakesh Bedi (extreme right)
A scene from the play featuring Rakesh Bedi (extreme right)

If there is one modern gadget that has made the 21st century society more insular than ever before, it has to be the smartphone. After religion, it's now the new opium of the masses. There was even a survey conducted recently in which over 68 per cent of the respondents said they feel angry when someone takes their phone off charge without prior warning.

A similar percentage also said that they feel irritable when they lose their Wi-Fi connection all of a sudden. That's the sort of hold that the smartphone has on our psyche. Now, a new play that will premier in the city this weekend takes a comedic look at how this has affected modern human behaviour and relationships, apart from showcasing how the Indian middle class keeps multiple skeletons in its closet.

It's called Patte Khul Gaye, which Rakesh Bedi — who's acted in movies like Chashme Baddoor and Uri, and in TV shows like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi — has written and directed. The play also stars a clutch of other film and TV personalities, such as Anant Mahadevan (Yes Boss and Baazigar), Kishwer Merchant (Shaktimaan and CID) and Rupali Ganguly (Sanjivani and Kahani Ghar Ghar Kii). The plot revolves around a dinner party that a cosmetic surgeon and his wife are hosting.

Anant Mahadevan and Kishwer Merchant during a rehearsal for the play
Anant Mahadevan and Kishwer Merchant during a rehearsal for the play

The guests there are so glued to their phones instead of talking to each other that the hostess gets fed up. She tells all of them to put their phones in the centre of the room, and anyone who gets a call must have the conversation over speaker phone. This leads to all sorts of unsavoury secrets tumbling out. One seemingly respectable woman is revealed to be a kleptomaniac, for instance.

But the story also touches upon how members of the Indian middle class are constantly keeping up appearances to fit in. Sample this sequence. When a certain couple arrives for the party, the wife tells the husband to go ahead without her since she'll follow him after a few minutes. And when she walks in, she ensures that she brandishes the car keys of a Mercedes to give others the impression that she owns one. But alas, what she didn't know is that the watchman of the building had already called the hosts on the intercom, saying that this lady was having trouble parking her vehicle, which is much smaller and more ordinary.

"The message of the play is that today, everyone has an extended organ, their phone. And everyone has something or the other hidden in it. Nobody is clean in their actions these days. It could be a message or a chat, or maybe a pornographic video or something else that would disturb their family. And the thing is that with the middle class, hamare paas jo hain woh hum dikhate nahin, aur jo nahin hain woh dikhate hain," Bedi tells us, encapsulating this societal group's hypocrisy in one sentence.

On November 3, 5 pm and 7 pm
At Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Log on to bookmyshow.com
Cost Rs 400

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