Play on Indians in Britain gets full houses on Broadway

April 28th, 2008 - 10:12 am ICT by admin  

By Parveen Chopra
New York, April 28 (IANS) An award-winning comedy about the travails of a newly wed Indian couple trying to find privacy in the groom’s family’s house in London is drawing full houses on Broadway because of its universal appeal. Staged in London last year, “Rafta Rafta” (Slowly, Slowly), which looks askance at the generational divide on sex and marriage, won an Olivier for Best New Comedy. Oliviers are considered the Oscars of British theatre.

Based on “All In Good Time” by Bill Naughton, the play is written by Ayub Khan-Din, a Pakistani-British playwright known for “East is East”, that was adapted into a film starring Om Puri in 1999.

In its off-Broadway production by The New Group, “Rafta Rafta” stars Sarita Choudhury and Ranjit Chowdhry. The London staging had Meera Syal and Indian actor Harish Patel.

Sarita, the actress from New York who acted in Mira Nair’s “Kama Sutra”, plays the bride’s mother.

“Bringing the play about two Indian families in London to the US audience has not diminished its universal appeal,” Sarita told IANS.

South Asians comprise only about one-fourth of the audience here, but they all laugh, she said.

Sarita gives credit for the play’s success to the director, Scott Elliott, who “instructed the cast to enact the drama, and not aim at laughs, which come because the play is written that way”. This has prevented the play from falling into the sitcom trap, she added.

New York based Indo-American Arts Council is hosting a special performance of the play May 5, followed by a discussion with Khan-Din, the director and the cast.

The play, which opened April 18, will run in New York till June 21.

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