Love is a wonderful feeling. You think you’re flying high in love but to the rest of the world, you look like a pigeon strutting around fancily. Part of the Shri Ram Centre’s Summer Theatre Festival, Prem Kabootar tells you a story about a romance where there are no phones and no social media connections, just old-school love letters and shy glances of admiration. Based on a story by Manav Kaul, the play is directed by Sameep Singh.
WHAT’S Prem Kabootar ABOUT:
Set in a small town where even owning a cycle is a matter of pride, this story is about three friends – Suneel, Salim and Raju – and their introduction to the world of innocent romance. Handwritten letters passing through with utmost secrecy and care is the only form of communication among the boys and their lovers. Salim, who works at his father’s tailor shop, loves Meenakshi. Both meet for a fraction of minutes at the Mazaar to exchange letters and go on their ways. Suneel secretly harbors feelings for her but having grown-up watching Bollywood movies about friendship, he sacrifices his love for Salim. Raju, on the other hand, is a year older to them but most inexperienced in love. He forms a connection with Meenakshi’s friend, Nina. Being illiterate, he asks Suneel to write his letters for him. Suneel writes those letters with Meenakshi in his heart and visualizes a character named Pappu, who takes on a real persona in the story. It gets complicated when everyone starts asking questions about this character. Now Suneel has to come up with a story for him and this is how he unknowingly becomes a writer. He projects his pain as Pappu’s, who has his heart broken.
Almost like a musical, the play takes you through different stages of unrequited adolescent love. The stage setting is unique with movable wooden boxes to show different locales. A high wooden box with a cycle on the top becomes a metaphor for young love. The story of love is juxtaposed with a Mazaar, almost as if the divine is imparting its blessings. Himanshu Tyagi as Suneel takes center stage. A real praiseworthy performance, he shows his talents with his comical acting and soliloquies, as do other actors. The lighting and music is another high note of the play.
WHAT COULD’VE BEEN BETTER:
There is always a room for improvement on stage but this show is already pretty much perfect. Every actor plays their part perfectly.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH:
Prem Kabootar is a riveting play with a relatable story. The fluid change of scenes, costumes from the ’90s and actors pretending to be props is a spectacle that leaves you amazed. You relate to Suneel’s pain and also laugh at the funny parts. Watch this play to forget about your stressful life and laugh wholeheartedly.