Director: Makarand Deshpande
Writer: Makarand Deshpande
Cast: Swanand Kirkire, Zahan Kapoor, Snehal Malgundkar, Madhuri Gawli, Aakanksha Gade
Before the play begins, writer-director Makrand Deshpande, promises that his play has “manoranjan”, but more importantly, it has a “mudda”. On that note, you’re swept into the jocular, introspective and thought-provoking world of Pitaji Please.
As the title suggests, Pitaji Please is about the relationship between Vinayak Deshpande (Swanand Kirkire) and his son Sanju (Jahan Kapoor). Their love for each other is palpable, but they struggle to communicate and often rely on their domestic help, Heerabai, (Madhuri Gawli) whose rib-tickling repartees bring the house down, to serve as mediator.
Sanju falls in love and wants to bring home his girlfriend, Sania (Aakankasha Gade). The problem is that Sania is Muslim and he’s not sure his conservative father would be in favour of the match. So he invents a white lie, and introduces her as Swati. It works and his father is smitten. Even more so as Swati reminds him of his late wife, also called Swati (Snehal Malgundkar), a ghazal-loving, liberal-minded woman with a mellifluous voice.
The same Swati with whom he has imaginary conversations, and who serves as his conscience at times. Vinayak speaks in Hindi, Swati endearingly replies in Marathi, and these serve as some of the most memorable moments of the play. Both actors are also powerhouse singers, and they often break into a song to during their conversations. Swati challenges Vinayak to think beyond his prejudices and he responds with frustration, anger and then helplessness. His sorrow at losing his wife is visceral and the moments he shares with her will bring a tear or two to your eye.
Pitaji Please tackles the prickly issue of the conflicts that arise between traditionally embattled religious identities with a heart-warming plot and liberal doses of satire. The writing, poetic yet hard-hitting and laced with humour, stays with you a long time after the curtain drops. The play’s aforementioned “mudda” is that despite differences, there’s an inherent goodness in people.
The play will leave you questioning your own beliefs about love, religion and what it means to be a good human being in today’s turbulent times. That’s not a bad thing.