Theatre Review- The Siddhus of Upper Juhu
As the classical Bollywood number goes ,” Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahan, zara hatke zara bach ke, yeh hai Bombay meri jaan!”
While it is still the city of aspiration and dreams, majorly due to Bollywood , once you land up the problems of this metropolis hit you. Bad roads, Noise, Water/Electricity problems, Neighbours who behave like strangers etc are just a few ones that the hustle bustle of the city hides behind its glowing lights. Whether you own a house or are a tenant, the experience or rather exposure to the crumbling infrastructure of the city sucks you in. Yet ask any true blue Mumbaikar and the response will be” Mumbai jaisi koi jagah nahi hai Boss!. Mein toh yahi settle hoga. Iss city mein kuch toh baat hai!”
This is exactly the Dna of Balwinder Siddhu aka Bubbles( Rajit Kapur). A financial executive who has poured out his life’s savings into an upper rise in Mumbai. Giving him company is his parsi wife Behruz (Shernaz Patel). In spite of living in a fancy locality, ( Andheri with an Upper Juhu snob) it is hardly the home they dreamed of. The constant roar of the aeroplanes, loud music from the neighbour’s house, barking street dogs, malfunctioning Ac and flush all add up to the stress that they otherwise find in their usual life.
The fact that every Mumbaikar faces these problems and on most occasions smiles through them is because the job security that this city gives. If that goes, the undercurrent chaos can get to you and make you feel helpless. That’s exactly what happens to Bubbles. On the night he loses his job, his home too gets burgled and that sets in the tone for his nervous breakdown. An ageing executive anyways has a limited shelf life in this city and in Bubble’s case it appears that even the job he was into wasn’t his passion in the first place. Hence the pain is intensified. How Behruz manages him and their lives post him sinking into depression forms the second half of the story.Caught it the other day playing at the revamped Royal Opera House, which is an experience in itself.
Overall the first half is much more funny and raises expectations going into the interval. Witty one liners and the problems that you can relate to make it engaging. In the second half, more characters get introduced namely Bubble’s siblings. However this is where the plot loses its grip on the audience. The focus suddenly shifts from the Mumbai couple to his extended family who reach Mumbai to help him out. The energy of the first half gets deflated and one might struggle to sit through the second half apart from the scenes which the main couple have. The radio guy in the background keeps his interesting fillers going nevertheless.
Kapur shines in this one. Playing his character to the core, he is careful in not letting the comedy become a hamming exercise. It is effectively Punjabi over the top. Shernaz adds her own charm and plays the homemaker who transforms into the breadwinner once her husband sinks into depression. One she loses her job too is when the couple pop the perennial question, on whether the hardship that the city throws at them is worth the benefits it gives.
This is very much the question that all of us Mumbaikars face in our lives. Feel the ‘papad like walls’ ironically symbolise the thin line between stress and depression that we all go through. Who knows the day the Job security goes, Balvinder or Behruz, every Mumbaikar will have his own story to tell. This city is nothing but a concrete jungle and as the saying goes in the jungle only the fittest survive. This play probably is a reminder of this dark fact that the director Rahul Da Cunha wants us to wake up to.
Ae dil hai mushkil jeena yahan, zara hatke zara bach ke, yeh hai ‘ab Mumbai’ meri jaan!