Humorous tale, clean, clichd and slow-paced

CLASSIC COMEDY

Adaptations of English plays were a tested formula in the 70s and 80s. But to relive the genre of ‘classic comedy’ and present it in it’s pure-style is a challenge that thespian and filmmaker Ramesh Talwar accepted when he decided to stage the play Khalid ki Khala with National School of Drama repertory company over the weekend in the Capital.

Having directed theatre stalwarts like Farooque Shaikh and Rakesh Bedi as characters for this play, it was a refreshing change for Ramesh to cast NSD repertory actors. 
 
“Though Farooque used to look a bit feminine since he was a handsome man, the character of Baba Khan demands an actor who is tall and dark,” explained the director on his choice of Sukumar Tudu (from the repertory) to play Baba Khan. 
 
The actor does justice to his role in creating the necessary confusion by disguising as Begum Jaffar Shustaro Madino aka Khalid’s khala. 

To avoid any confusion here, it can be simply stated that the narrative, based on the adaptation of the English play Charlie’s Aunt by Thomas Brandon, by Begum Quidsia Zaidi, is dramatised again and again in many plays and films (such as Govinda-starrer Aunty No. 1) and even TV serials. 

The play centres around three college boys in a highly conservative society that frowns upon any casual mixing between boys and girls. 
 
To profess their feelings for their beloveds, the two boys eventually come up with the pretext of a ‘khala’ and involve the third boy in their capers. 

This leads to a hilarious situation, specially when Ahmad’s (one of the two boys) father and Siptain (father of the girls) falls for the Begum - due to her being a ‘wealthy widow’. 

The play in three acts is made concise and presented in an hour and 50 minutes along with a 10 minute interval. 

Before the intermission, the story, antics and comic punches draw appreciation for being crisp and clean. 

However, in the second half, a certain sense of monotony seeps in, lulling one into 
sleep through the rest of the performance.
 
A startling support to the ‘farce’ on stage was provided by live music though violin and keyboard. 

Ace Hamid Hussain on violin does a wonderful job by remaining alert throughout the show and adds to the performance through his skilled hand - which in turn makes the play enjoyable (atleast the first half).
 
It is also the intonation of actors – such as what Ahmad (Ajeet) does in narrating the sher “Duain mang mang kar tanhai naseeb hui hai” with extra stress on “hai” enthuses in bits and the repetition of action that holds the interest of the viewers. 
 
Particular scenes, when the spotlight falls on Baba Khan smoking a cigarette followed by a spotlight each on Ahmad and Khalid, stay in the mind. 

But among the characters, it is the house help Fakira who is adorable throughout.  

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