Cast: Delnaz Divecha, Surabhi Subramonian, Aakash Ahuja, Aritro Rudraneil Banerjee, Sanket Sharma, Suhas Chatkara, Aarti Bhalla, Khushi Chandalia, Arnesh Ghose
Writer & Director: Arnesh Ghose
Let's start with the venue – Harkat Studios. Harkat Studios is a charming bungalow in the quaint lairs of Aaram Nagar (why is that important, you ask – we will come to that) that can fit about 20 people. There is a stage-ish area, which is anything but conventional, and with the use of minimal props and lighting, a story is played out in front of you. Right when you think you know what to expect, a stark narrative takes over, which can make you very uncomfortable.
The next order of business is the title of the play – Andheri. Andheri is a dark comedy presented by The Mirror Merchants and the name works on multiple levels. Aaram Nagar in Andheri is a favorite hangout for everyone who dreams of becoming a successful actor someday. With a majority of production houses and casting agents/directors based here, it's easy to spot these “strugglers” in the vicinity. And also, if you didn't know already, andheri refers to all kinds of darkness artists have to face – right from rejection to exploitation. And, going by Andheri, that's not far from how the strugglers actually go about their lives.
The play revolves around different types of strugglers/actors in Bombay who dream of making it big in the entertainment industry. An actor who is addicted to the lights-camera-action routine, an ambitious actress who has settled for being an assistant to a successful casting director in the hopes of pinching a role someday (her inner voice is a clown who has no regards for political correctness), a powerful casting director whose moral compass is challenged as per the society standards, a small-town girl whose priorities are not going to bed hungry and she doesn't mind sleeping for roles, and a stage actor who refuses to sell out because he is not bikau.
There's drama, comedy and a good dose of painful reality in Andheri. If you have never given an audition in your life or dreamed of making it big on the silver screen, you may not be able to relate to the struggle but you sure can understand it. Andheri's portrayal of conflicts between ambition and ethics, between not going hungry and keeping your pride, and between selling out and creating art is so real that it hurts. The play may not have a definite story but it's not about the story anyway.
Special mention to a cheeky, dark scene that has been added to the play for a stunning reason. And a very special mention to the play within the play “Ek Role Milega?”.
If you are an ambitious actor, you cannot miss this at any cost. If you are not, explore how murky the attractive world of glamour is on the inside, if you have the stomach for it.
Book your tickets here for Andheri, if you haven't already.