Life's pathos staged
Rakesh's Bedi's adaptation of Vijay Tendulkar's play `Massage' is a well crafted effort
"HUMOUR IS in short supply in (Indian) cinema," remarks Rakesh Bedi, the comedy actor of Hindi cinema who won appreciation with Sai Paranjape's Chashme Baddoor, to begin with, and continued through a variety of mainstream films. Bedi was in town with the play, Massage, a much acclaimed Marathi play written by Vijay Tendulkar Massage was performed to an invited audience at Hari Hara Kala Bhavan on December 6, and was sponsored by the UTI bank.
Rakesh Bedi is not a new face here, and, amused the Hyderabadis earlier in the IPTA production, Biwi O Biwi. Massage is a play of an everyman (translated into Hindi by Dr. Vasudha Sahastrabudhe), Happy Kumar, a "happy loser" and his dream of becoming an actor. He ultimately becomes a professional masseur.He goes through a variety of experiences through his encounters with a Punjabi film producer, his obese wife, a south Indian heroine, a heroine's over-excited mother, a gym proprietor and his customers and a woman on the street whom he saves from ruffians and eventually marries, among others.
Through life's ups and downs, he does not lose his sense of humour. While Tendulkar's play is meant to be a mirror to the decadent, urban lifestyle of a city he is part of, Rakesh Bedi adapts it to suit a style that would evoke instant response from a varied audience.And using the genre of a two-act monologue indeed makes it a challenge to don the roles of 24 different characters in a span of nearly two hours.He confesses, "It is a big challenge for any actor; there is no support of big sets, and other accessories. One had to work on it for nine months to come out with this. This is my 25th show , which has received response that I am really happy with."
About Massage he says, "There is an underlying layer of pathos, which is easy to miss if you see just the humour." Talking of humour in mainstream cinema Bedi comments, "One must be able to laugh at oneself before laughing at others. That was Charlie Chaplin's humour. The audience does not seem to relate to humour. They would relate more to the hero beating up ten men than, say, a comedy actor sitting on a donkey! It should change. Humour is basically the truth, which nobody wants to see. Fifty years of Hindi cinema has given barely 10 films of proper humour."
Speaking of humour, Massage - rather Bedi's adaptation of it - also falls victim, at places, to vulgarity and sexist overtones. And one realises that even the audience needs to be cultivated for subtle humour, which is not just comments on physical appearances and woman's anatomy. The good part of the play was the terrific ability of Bedi to create the setting for each of Happy Kumar's encounters. So you are able to imagine other actors on stage and see the context come alive as well. That truly is something that Bedi's acting stands out for.And if Hyderabadis can learn one thing while watching a play, it is to switch off their mobiles. Although Massage seems to be a good effort it fails to touch the depth of the original.
R. UMA MAHESHWARI
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