Thursday, November 03, 2011

About love, Among Other Things

Sunday , May 15, 2005

Estranged spouses can become exasperating habits. Easy to pick in the days of youth. Hard to leave as you grow old. Divorce, then, is just a sorry reprieve. Raell Padamsee's play Anything but Love which opened to a full house at Tagore theatre today grapples with this theme in a comic yet forceful tone. Directed by Vikranth Pawar, the play revolves around two characters Seema and Anish, played by Mandira Bedi and Samir Soni, respectively.

The play begins with the chance meeting of the two in a restaurant. Divorced for five years, they can't wait to put the other one down. What follows is a hilarious exchange of whipping wit, immediately hooking the audience, and they are seldom let off.

After the initial fusillade of sexual insults and indefatigable repartee, the play lays bare the complex lives of the two characters, still retaining its risible flavour. Having divorced Anish, Seema, a one-time feminist, marries a younger man. Anish, a bisexual, absent-minded physics professor carries on his flings with, what Seema calls, "overgrown" schoolgirls. Even after five years of water gone under the bridge, both feel jealous and threatened by the presence of another lover in the former spouse's life. The jealousy is countered by an attempt to reclaim the old state. Guess what! They end up in bed again. Undergoing therapy with impossible shrinks, they realise that they are each other's best support.

Legally married to someone else Seema decides to go back to Anish. And then things go bad, again, and she moves out again only to bump into him in a restaurant again. That's where the curtain falls.

The play looks at the woman's fear of growing old and the man's dread of impotence. Samir Soni was flamboyant as a nutty professor. His timing and control was admirable. The quirks and whims of married individuals were brilliantly portrayed by both the actors who shared a great chemistry and acted out the characters as well as the relationship with impeccable empathy.

Once in the play Anish says that choosing whom to marry is like selecting a mobile phone service. You never know the hidden costs until later. But probably a better metaphor, taken from the play itself, is that of the crossword puzzle. It's all about helping each other with the clues to get it right.



Sunil Aggarwal said...

Hi Ashish,
Let's try to spread some politically incorrect versions of marriage for god's sake. For example, a day-long marriage, a week-long marriage, a month-long marriage and never a lifelong marriage. The other varieties can be marriage with official break ya milte hain break ke baad option. Sisterly wives and brotherly husbands can also be tried. It is better to unfold marital imagination than living in an infertile conception of marriage.

Ashish said...

Hey Sunil bhai,

I am not sure if you will come back to read this comment but still...

First of all, given the trend right now, lifelong marriage is no longer a "sacred" idea. And, hence, to support it is, actually, being politically incorrect. People (and law courts) have already moved on to live-in relationships and same-sex marriages.

And for day-long, week-long, month-long affairs [that's what they are, affairs] we need not use the word "marriage", which to me means more-than-month-long commitment. We do have marriages with breaks and hiatuses, soldiers, merchants, athletes, visiting professors ... do have breaks ... and who says we are not like brothers and sisters in a married relationship? I mean, what are we talking about here? If being sisterly or brotherly means being caring and supportive, then how does that contradict the idea of lifelong marriage.

I am not if sure, if the very idea of a lifelong marriage is "infertile conception" of this "institution".

Problem may lie with us as individuals and we keep on blaming the concept. Maybe it is our ego, maybe a genuine misunderstanding ...