Sunday, November 5, 2017

The 90-minute long play 'Noni Appa' by 'Lilette Dubey' is a must watch

The conflict of forbidden love is a tempting one for any narrative, be it prose or poetry. And when two individuals, who could well be called "senior citizens" get caught in the throes of it, one can only imagine the drama. Based on Twinkle Khanna's short story by the same name, Lilette Dubey's Salaam, Noni Appa is a smooth blend of conflict and compassion, with enough laughter to see you through the 90-minute long play.

Darshan Jariwalla, Dubey and Jayati Bhatia in a still from the play
Darshan Jariwalla, Dubey and Jayati Bhatia in a still from the play

The story revolves around two widowed sisters Noni Appa (Dubey) and Binnie, played by Jayati Bhatia who are both gradually coming to terms with widowhood and old age, and yet have not lost their penchant for childlike banter. The two couldn't be more apart in character — Binnie's garrulous enthusiasm versus Noni's quiet elegance. Yet, they get along in a way only sisters can. Meanwhile, Noni finds a friend in their yoga teacher, Anandji, played by the very dignified Darshan Jariwalla. Anandji, in his mid-60's, is younger to Noni by a few years, is in the midst of enduring a troubled marriage. Over yoga sessions and copious rounds of rummy, they develop a connection that they initially don't want to define, until finally, they do.

The play is interspersed with many chuckles, guffaws and lump-in-the-throat moments. The emotions never get overly sentimental, nor the comedy slapstick. And every time things get slightly heavy, Bhatia's inimitable humour dispels the tension. Watch out for the scene where she describes the thrill of foreign lingerie. Dubey brings in her own brand of grace to Noni Appa, and she looks so radiant, that it's easy to forget that this is a character in her late 60s. That could be the only glitch in the play. Jariwalla owns the role of a henpecked husband who suffers quietly, and even in scenes where he goes off-tune while crooning songs by his favourite singer "Mukes", he manages to hit the right notes.

There's a line where Anandji, while trying to describe his marriage to Noni, says, "Some people like drama in their lives all the time, but it's not necessary to attend every performance." Well, the same cannot be said about this performance, which we think, is a must-attend. It makes the "heart hum". You'll only get this odd phrase, once you watch the play.

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