A rom-com in Kannada from VASP
A mother is worried about her efforts to bring home a daughter-in-law because her husband and her son are big stumbling blocks to that venture. Her husband is a walkie-talkie version of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, with his own definitions for all and sundry words – he brings these up in every conversation regardless of relevance or propriety. Her son, our hero, is bristling with revolutionary zeal, which permeates every verse of poetry he writes, decrying the sordid and morbid state of affairs around him. Any meeting with a prospective bride’s family invariably leads to disaster on account of the verbal deluge from the father and son duo.
Things change when a middle-aged couple and their daughter, our heroine, move into the neighbouring house and come to visit. The male of the pair is put off by our hero’s father, though his wife falls to some extent for his humourous banter. The daughter seethes with anger at the men of the world, and her anger seeks vent in vitriolic poetry. She comes into our hero’s life as a thundering whirlwind (though the hero’s mother has a more colourful description for her), leaving him disturbed in her wake.
When a feminist meets a revolutionary, well, something has to give. And that is the crux of the whole play, to the delight of some parents and the chagrin of others. The plotting mothers embark on a mission to smoothen the sailing of the love-boat. The father who wears suspenders, smokes a pipe and hides behind a walrus-moustache, also lurks in the background eavesdropping on the young couple, adding to comic relief.
Avanu Ghazal AvaLu Shayari (meaning: He is a ghazal, she poetry) transported me back to my college days in the ‘80s , when we used to sport a jubba and a jhola just like the revolutionary poet and his sidekicks. I really loved the blood-red polka-dotted shirt that the hero sports when he is ‘converted’ into what some people call a ‘baa’-lamb. The heroine’s headband and frock reminded one of the feisty young ladies of those days, when the heart yearned for just one glance from one of them, nurturing a hope that gravity would, at least for once, demonstrate its presence by attracting a flower from her tresses or a handkerchief from her hand, unbeknownst to her – this fortunate occurrence could either be used to get a chance for conversation or retain it for keepsakes, as a token of tender memories.
I found a kindred soul in the hero’s father, given my penchant for word play in real life. A couple of examples here from the myriad ones on similar lines in the play: “A washer-man is a guy who tries breaking stones using our clothes.” “Laundry is just the process of washing and ironing our clothes in order to preserve the stains on them.”
In all, a wonderful and hilarious romantic comedy from VASP, produced by NC Mahesh and ably directed by Vinay Shastri, accompanied by excellent acting on part of the entire cast and some perfectly suitable music to go with the romantic mood. My only regret was that I could not savour all the poetry rattled off by the hero and the heroine due to my weak Kannada. I wish I could get the script and enjoy those lines all the more. The play took me back to my younger days when I wrote what I then thought was romantic poetry. I have told my son not to miss it, if it is staged again – and I think that says everything I feel about this play. I, for one, would certainly like to see it again.