A de-lightful play

Vinay Varma engages the senses of the theatre buffs in Hyderabad with his comedy play Andhere Mein, and the audience walked away seeing the light.

What could happen if we can see even in darkness? Vinay Varma, theatre personality and film actor, tried to showcase the answer to that question through his recent Hindi play Andhere Mein. Based on the Pratap Sehgal’s Indian adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Black Comedy, Andhere Mein is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Government Of India, and was staged at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan auditorium on Friday.

Andhere Mein begins with a young sculptor Rahul Mehta and his fiancée Roshni anxiously waiting to meet a wealthy art collector Nawab saab. The couple has stolen very expensive antiques from a neighbour Jolly (played by Ganesh Nallari) who is away on holiday. The sculptor admits to have done this to impress the fiancée’s Colonel father (played by Vinay, the director) and also the Nawab saab. Before the much awaited guests arrive, an electrical fuse shorts, causing a blackout. What follows is chaos thrown in with unexpected visitors and mistaken identities getting the better of each other in the darkness.

The prep
Staged under a reversed lighting scheme, the 90-minute-long Andhere Mein not only delves in the characters on stage but also dives into the psyche of the audience with on-point one-liners intermittent with perfect background music.
Elaborating on the play, the director Vinay Varma says, “I had been planning to stage this play for a couple of years now, but as the play requires an elaborate stage and props, I had applied for a personal grant from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The entire process took some time apart from getting the sets, props and actors on point. It was a challenge for the creative and tech teams to get everything in place for the play as it is more about the structure rather than the plot. We got to rehearse only for three months.”

The twist
Interestingly, and thanks to Vinay, a few characters in the play got a Hyderabadi twist. “I wanted to make the play more conversational and relatable to the Hyderabadi audience so that they can understand the allegory of the script,” adds the director. And as anticipated, as the story began unfolding on stage, the audience on ground was seen getting increasingly intrigued. Deepak, IT professional, who had come to watch the play with his friends, is a theatre buff and had been looking forward to the show. When asked about how the show appealed to him, he says, “I did wonder how hard it would be to convincingly play like you are in darkness when there is full light on stage and vice-versa. Also, the actors tried their best to not get stereotypical and clichéd, and the result was one truly hilarious journey. Kudos to the cast and crew for undertaking and producing such a daring theatrical challenge. And congratulations especially to Ganesh Nallari, for playing the flamboyant yet possessive friend Jolly Peters.”

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