Bharatendu Harishchander’s classic satire on politics and culture Andher Nagari is the brainchild behind the Hindi black comedy play Andher Nagari Chopat Raja. Surender Sahil Verma, who has recently completed 25 years in theatre is the director of this play. Hosted by Apollo Foundation and Rangeen Sapney Theatre, the duration of the play is 80 minutes with an ensemble of a cast that comprises of Cap. Ahmed, Chirag Joshi, Varun Gyanchandani, Raveesh Motlani, Yash Pandey, Shubhangi Pandey, Suhani Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Tejas Mahajan, Siddharth Jain, Shobit, Sarith B and Ajay Attilli. The cast is an amalgamation of amateurs and experienced practitioner’s in their respective fields chosen through a workshop. The play is a typical takeover of Indian politics and current developments in the funniest way that kept the audience engaged and laugh their hearts out throughout.
The play begins with Guruji and his two disciple sadhus, Ramdas and Narayan das, who go in search of bhiksha separately upon the advice of their guru. They find an entrance to Andher Nagari, where Ramdas does not show much interest while Narayan Das enters the city with much enthusiasm, despite knowing nothing about it. Then comes a series of characters like ladduwala, degree bechne wala, a person selling formulae, film award seller, sabzi wala, lok sabha stand-up comedy etc. in their own way exploiting their funny skills. Guruji comes to know about Andher Nagari through Narayan Das and tells him not to stay there anymore. However, Narayan Das wants to live after getting accustomed to all the tips and tricks of living in this city. He himself turns into a laddu baba who resolves the issues of the common public by giving laddu. All these episodes are a laugh riot and clearly depict the current happenings in the society.
The play then transcends to a kingdom setup where King Chopat Raja is introduced. Chopat Raja sleeps all the time and the ministers surrounding him manage media by bribing them whenever the need arises. In this strange land, one day a goat is killed in an accident committed by a person. The owner of the goat files a case in court. While arguing this case before Chopat Raja, he claims that the mechanic has placed duplicate spare parts which made him lose the control of his car, for which he is liable. The rest of the play is about the final decision made by Chopat Raja amidst interesting twists and turns.
Andher Nagari Chopat Raja is a must watch Hindi comedy play that will bring everyone to toes with its humor quotient intertwined with current affairs in the country. One must admit that it is a brilliant adaption of a very old play and Surender Sahil Verma must be appreciated for telling the story by connecting to the recent times without missing out on the comedy.
– Written by Srilakshmi Mudunuri.