Taj Mahal ka Tender

A period drama setup in corrupt times, this play is a satire on current bureaucratic system. Emperor Shah Jahan wants a memoir of love to be built for generations to remember his love. The bureaucracy has other plans, though. Hand-in-gloves with contractors, the bureaucrats milk the opportunity at the cost of the royal treasury. The question is if Taj Mahal will get built, or… not?

Different groups perform this play regularly across India. The full length videos of the play performed by various artists and groups are also readily available on YouTube. I watched IPTA’s first-rate performance with Avtar Gill (as contractor) and Rakesh Bedi in the cast. The execution of IPTA was flawless as always, which is expected from it with the tenured ensemble it has. It is always a delight to see IPTA’s troupe performing on a stage!

The plot does justice to the topic it picks up and showcases gradual ascend of greed in people. It also captures the gamut of possibilities of corruption in a government construction. Continued relevance and simplicity of the plot would be two strong pillars of the play’s performance anywhere.

That said, the plot lacks the content to hold the audience for 2 hours, which is regular run-time for the play. Audience may feel the play to be boring and over-stretched at times. The comic situations, which are either absurd or predictable, do not help much.

AglaPlay Verdict: Average play
AglaPlay Rating: 2.5/5
Language: Hindi
Duration: Approx. 2 hours
Writer: Ajay Shukla
Director: Salim Arif
Cast: Rakesh Bedi (bureaucrat),
Avtar Gill (contractor), 
Rajan Kapur / Bharat kapoor, 
Manju Sharma, Abhishek Srivastav, 
Pramod Dubey, Omprakash & others

Below are a few relevant links. The web links to other reviews are also provided for easy reference.

Other Links
Full Play by Swatantra Theatre Group
Review on Repaitxt
IPTA Mumbai Official Site 
Avtar Gill Wikipedia
Rakesh Bedi Wikipedia

Chinta Chhod Chintamani

Written by Vasant Kanetkar, the play revolves around the average middle-class family. Chintamani is the bread-earner of the family and the age is getting better of him. He is living with his wife, two sons and a daughter. His parents have also come to stay with him. The elder son wants to become a cricketer and does not focus on studies. The daughter follows a spiritual leader and decides to leave home. The other son wants to become an actor. Their career choices put them in cross with Chintamani’s hopes for his children. The parents and wife are not helping as they do not share Chintamani’s concerns.

Audience have an easy connect with the plot as all of us have had some experience with some Mr. Chintamani in our lives. The actors also perform well. However, the scenes are rather monotonous and the character of Chintamani is flat. The writing, though having semblance to real life situations, is just too plain. It is predictable, run-of-the-mill play where audience keeps on waiting for the punch which never really comes.

AglaPlay Verdict: Avoid
AglaPlay Rating: 1/5
Language: Hindi
Writer: Vasant Kanetkar
Director: Om Katare
Cast: Om Katare (Chintamani), 
Paromita Chatterjee, Keya Gupta, 
Mukund Bhatt, Vaibhav Joshi, 
Radha Bharadwaj, Prateek Pendharkar, 
Prashant Upadhaya, Puneet Maloo, 
Ashoke Sharmaa, Priyanka Basu - Kaul, 
Mukesh Yadav 

Below are a few relevant links. The web links to other reviews are also provided for easy reference. Yatri’s 10 minute YouTube video [has spoilers] (top link) below summarizes the complete story and covers the major punchlines as well.

Other Links
Chinta Chhod Chintamani Trailer [spoilers]
Chinta Chhod Chintamani Keya Gupta's act 
Vasant Kanetkar Wikipedia 
Om Katare Wikipedia
Review on TOI 
Review on BMS 

Jeene Bhi Do Yaaron

The play begins where many in romantic genres (and sometimes romance too) ends – marriage. This hilarious play explores the married life. The couple portrayed by Pratik Pendharkar and Radha Bhardwaj are facing troubles in marriage, and bring their problems to the boy’s celibate elder brother. More complications are on the way as Divya’s elder sister also shows up. Do they forget the differences, or do they break-up?

The comic timings are excellent and Pratik Pendharkar shines in the role of the protagonist. However, the rest of the cast performs average at best. The play is written and directed by Om Katare, whose on-stage presence is overbearing at times. The character of the girl’s sister also annoys at moments. Direction is otherwise okay, and the story flows effortlessly. The use of lightening and sound effects is apt and supportive to the play.

I will recommend the play to couples. You will definitely have more than a few good laughs in the play. The play may be avoided if involves too much of time, money and travel for the reader. Mistake me not, this is a good play. It is just that there are better plays performed out there.

AglaPlay Verdict: Good humor with excellent comic timings
AglaPlay Rating: 3.0/5
Language: Hindi
Duration: 2 hours
Writer: Om Katare
Director: Om Katare
Pratik Pendharkar (Husband)
Radha Bhardwaj (Wife) 
Om Katare (Husband's elder brother)
Sonam Singh (Wife's elder sister) 

Please watch the trailer below. Do note that certain sections may not be appropriate for children.

Other Links
Jeene Bhi Do Yaaron Trailer
Om Katare Wikipedia

Dance Like a Man

“Dance Like a Man” highlights the conflicts across three generations through the protagonist couple Jairaj and Ratna. Jairaj and Ratna are two aspiring passionate Bharatnatyam dancers. Jairaj’s father, the patriarch, is against a career in dance. Their conflicts, thoughts, aspirations form the core of the play. Darker secrets unfold as the story evolves, jumping back and forth between present and past.

What make this play great are the plethora of topics it touches and the justice with which the play treats each of these topics. The gender-biases are captured through the play, and specially how a man can be a victim. The protagonists are financially dependent on the patriarch shows the monetary realities of a love affair. The characters are very strong, well-written and Lillete’s direction is impeccable. The live dancing performances is the cherry on the top.

AglaPlay Verdict: A very good play, excellent direction
AglaPlay Rating: 4.0/5
Language: English
Duration: 2 hours

Below are a few relevant links. The web links to other reviews are also provided for easy reference. Do note however that this play written by Mahesh Dattani is has more than a few shocking revelations, which must be experienced to really enjoy the performance. The reviews below (particularly medium.com) sadly have gone to the extent of summarizing the complete story.

Other Links
Dance Like a Man Trailer
Lillete Dubey Wikipedia
Suchitra Pillai Wikipedia
Dance Like a Man Review on medium.com [spoilers]
Dance Like a Man Review on FII [spoilers]