Adapting a famed film for the stage

For theatre lovers, one thing bad about a play based on the story of a critically acclaimed Hindi film is that it raises expectations.

So much so that it gets difficult to enjoy the performance as a normal play. More so, because it doesn’t start on time and then gets viewers who love to spoil the viewing experience of others!

Disappointed, Metrolife watches the recently staged play Daddy. Second in the series (after Arth), the play directed by Danish Iqbal adapts the story of Mahesh Bhatt’s 1989 film Daddy. The moment one gets reminded of the performances of Anupam Kher and Manohar Singh in the film, the urge to compare and contrast the play with the film becomes intense.

It is however ironic that a film, that is still remembered for its critically acclaimed performances, was adapted into a play where actors often fumbled and delivered dialogues in a frivolous manner, as if performing a skit in a school.

A loud phone rings and the voice on the other side of the line says “Pooja, I love you”.
It spreads panic among the actors on stage opening the play. Even before the audience settles down completely inside Shri Ram Centre’s auditorium, the background elements of the story are narrated speedily. And even before one gets to envision the actual picture, the characters Priya, Pooja, Pooja’s Nana
(Kantaprasad) and Nani, the house help Tarabai and the grandfather’s aide make several entries and exits, heightening confusion.

It takes time to figure out that the scenes enacted behind a screen are from the past, while the action in the front depicts the sequence of events in the present. The restlessness on the stage transfers to the audience that feels agitated at not being able to grasp the theatrical adaptation.

Just when one starts questioning the credibility of the director, certain scenes like where Pooja reads out from her mother’s diary while her father Anand Sareen (enacted by Imran Zahid) sleeps on a couch nearby, are staged aesthetically.

In most of the scenes, the background sound is implemented to kill the silence and enhance the performance, making the staging quite cinematic. This holds true even for the intelligent use of lights which allows the director to present a beautiful dreamy scene where Pooja dances with her father, Anand, and when the latter performs in the music competition and the actors playing young and old Anand appear together. The credit for its conceptualisation goes to the director who somewhere assumes
that the audience is aware of the story and sets down to present his treatment of the subject.

The perception towards the play changes by now, but the reality fails to match up to the expectations till the climax.

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