Mumbai Express derailed by poor jokes

Student's Theatre

Based on a play written by Vijay Tendulkar, Thief! Police! the play, Mumbai Express, staged on December 1, was not a play with a definitive plot, was loosely bound and heavily improvised.

Whereas, Tendulkar had brought in a thief, a capitalist and a beautiful woman, as a satire on the society that made people laugh and tweaked their thoughts, Anoop Trevedi the director of Mumbai Express on the other hand brought in several other characters that included a pensioner, a Hindi teacher, three boys, a communist, an unemployed man, an ordinary man, ascetic and few more negligible characters.

Trevedi mentioned that “Several more additions have been made to the original script to enhance the humour element and many important current issues have
been critiqued through satirical lines.

Anoop Trevedi has been a student of Habib Tanveer and has been in the field of theatre for the past 25 years. “These guys are from the weekend batch of Sri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, and it is their first play, they have all worked really hard,” he tells Metrolife.

The train to Agra is stopped because a woman loses her valuable diamond necklace and the passengers of Mumbai Express get stuck as police investigates the case of the missing necklace. Afraid the train won’t resume the journey till the ‘thief’ is nabbed, the passengers begin accusing each other for the theft.

Each character holds his own, the dialogues and costumes bespeaking their political ideology and perspectives. The play makes you forget Vijay Tendulkar’s idea of Thief! Police! and brings you to a more contemporary Bollywood enactment on stage, with dialogues inspired from films like Dabangg.

In one scene, the guys playing cards say “I have Queen (Rani)” to which the other says, “How can you have Rani, the other day you had Pooja?”

These guys definitely did not have much of a role in the play and neither was this
dialogue required to build the play. Many such dialogues came up every now and then.

In Trevedi’s presentation, people screamed, screeched, thumped on the ground, the audience laughed but it was hard to tell why, unless it was on sad jokes like Pagal ho kya, ja toh Agra hi rahe hain!

The set and lighting, modern and symbolic, was good and deserves a mention; the train and its passage through various cities was depicted with precision and added a rich element to the play.

The message of the play however was scattered, the dialogues evoked much laughter, but failed to highlight the values and the message each character was trying to convey, as a result of which it failed to be a satire.

The execution was lively and kept the audience engaged till the end, dialogue delivery and timing was never at fault. The play debuted in the city and is expected to travel to other cities too. Mumbai Express was an eventful experience for people who came with friends to hang out.

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