An intelligent comment on gay relationships thru drama (With Image)June 14th, 2009 - 12:22 pm ICT by IANS
By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) The humour of the original play was intact, but without making the characters come across as effeminate, as in Hindi films. Theatre director Sameer Thakur’s Indian take on Doric Wilson’s 1979 play “A Perfect Relationship” is an intelligent comment on gay relationships in contemporary India.
Adapted by Thakur of Cathaa Yatra, a Delhi-based community theatre company, “A Perfect Relationship” was staged to an overflowing audience at the American Centre in the capital Friday.
The play, which has won acclaim since it was staged in the capital in 2008, has been recommended for the Dublin International Theatre Festival in 2009 and has entered into the archives of the New York’s National Museum of Performing Arts.
Written by American playwright Doric Wilson in 1979, “A Perfect Relationship” was first performed in New York in 1980.
Reminisces Doric in one his interviews about the making of the “A Perfect Relationship”: “I was interviewing a potential roommate to share my Bedford Street apartment. When I asked him why he wanted to move, he answered, ‘You could write a play about what happened to me.’ It seems his lover brought home a trick (another man) and they decided to live together. So they kicked him out, but the trick only wanted the apartment so it was only a matter of time until the trick also evicted the lover. Three weeks later the first draft of ‘A Perfect Relationship’ was finished (but the interviewee didn’t move in).”
For Thakur, the scenario of the queer New York City of the 1970s becomes the humorous story of Sunny and Rehaan, two flatmates, who are great friends, but not lovers as they insist.
The room-mates, who spend most of their gossiping and downing shots of Vodkas, suddenly find their lives turning upside down when Ashwin, a ‘gay’ friend decides to take over their lovely flat in the middle of south Delhi.
It leads to hilarious twists of feigned love, betrayal and cunning deceit. Manpreet, aka Mandy, the self-styled land lady adds to the confusion. She makes a living subletting small flats where she walks in anytime with her boyfriend of the day.
Mandy is loud, crass with her Punjabi-laced English, but good at heart.
The play ends with Ashwin getting what he wants - the flat and good guys losing out. But there’s hope in the end.
The strength of the play lies in its insights into the 21st century gay world of Delhi.
The men have their insecurities - both in bed and outside - and are vulnerable to betrayals.
This alternative universe - like the straight world - is peopled by double-crossers who would do anything for money; even two-timing with a girl for small favours.
It comments on closet relationships of the affluent gay men. Ashwin is the rich guy - who wants to set up a love in Sunny and Rehaan’s flat to carry on with his “personal life”.
“Even my wife does not know about my personal life,” he proclaims.
The dialogues are witty, earthy and have a domesticated feel about them. The set is minimal.
“We put it up for production in 2008 in Delhi and in NCR. And the reactions came as a pleasant surprise. Most people said it was a courageous effort because of the social context. We let the humour remain as it is - without deviating from the original play. The play has references to the current gay rights movement in India,” director Sameer Thakur told IANS. Thakur also designed the set.
“The audience was not laughing at the gay characters in the play because they were natural- unlike the ones we come across in movies with their effeminate and comic ways,” the director said.
Thakur got in touch Wilson last on the Internet seeking permission to “adapt and relocate the play to New Delhi”. Wilson was initially doubtful.
“But then, I always say that my plays belong to the community they were written for. So I have my permission. And forgot all about it…,” Wilson said in an interview to the media.
Thakur is preparing for his next play, “Godot Arrives”. “I will try to push the boundary of humour in ‘Godot Arrives’. It is a modern adaptation of ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett.”
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Tags: american playwright, bedford street, chatterjee, dublin international, first draft, flatmates, gay friend, gay relationships, great friends, hindi films, humorous story, interviewee, matter of time, room mates, roommate, sameer, south delhi, street apartment, thakur, theatre director