Laughter is the best medicine

Making a comeback: Yesteryear actors Burjor Patel and Ruby Patel will feature in Laughter In The House 2.
Making a comeback: Yesteryear actors Burjor Patel and Ruby Patel will feature in Laughter In The House 2.
Early next month catch the second edition of the tribute to Adi Marzban, the Parsi dramatist best known for his farcical comedies

Many Parsis have grown up watching the plays of Adi Marzban, one of the leading playwrights of modern Indian theatre.

The productions, which were a satire on society, were laden with generous doses of comedy and humour. These works had such an indelible impact on well-known columnist Meher Marfatia that in 2011 she penned Laughter In the House: 20th Century Parsi Theatre. It chronicled the history of the Parsi theatre from 1930 to 2000 and was a ready reckoner for anyone who wanted to know everything about the iconic actors and directors.

This book proved to be a catalyst for Laughter In The House: A Tribute to Adi Marzban, which premiered at the stalwart’s 98th birth anniversary on April 17, 2012 at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA). The nostalgia show, directed by veteran Sam Kerawalla, comprised an evening of hilarious gags, sketches, songs, music and original Parsi Qawaali penned by Marzban. It featured yesteryear artistes like Ruby and Burjor Patel, Bomi Dotiwala and Scheherazade and Rohinton Mody as well as the younger crop of Parsi actors including Danesh Irani and Danesh Khambata.

Now five years later, the cast has come together for Laughter In The House 2. The play features skits by younger playwrights and directors including Aatish Kapadia, Rahul da Cunha and Bharat Dabholkar. Jim Vimadalal (37), who will compere it, was an integral part of the first edition too. He says, “All the older actors, who are in their 80s, wanted to come together on stage again. Burjor and Sam formed a five-member committee to revive the play and do a completely new run of Laughter In The House. We have not taken references from the earlier work. This is a completely new show where we have involved the younger writers to contribute, give it a new perspective and pay a tribute to Adi Marzban.”

Dabholkar’s skit Cricket With Parsi Women is a playful banter between three Parsi women while watching a cricket match. It was earlier performed by Ruby Patel for the former’s famous production, Bottoms Up. Kapadia has penned an antakshari sequence based on popular Hindi songs which depict the idiosyncrasies of Parsis and is a face-off between the senior and younger actors.

Kerawalla, who considers Marzban as his mentor, says he is following the latter’s footsteps by working with the younger generation. “I first met Adi when I was in college. It was a long, interesting lifetime association of learning. He always inspired youngsters to perform. I have tried to do the same in my career as well as in this production. We need to encourage them as they are the talent of tomorrow,” says the director.

Laughter In The House 2 will be staged at the Tata Theatre, NCPA, on April 2 and April 16 at 7 p.m.

Published on Hindu