Does every relationship need to be defined? Can’t people over a certain age find love due to societal norms? Lillette Dubey’s latest play Salaam, Noni Appa explores these issues through humor and a little bit of drama. Based on a short story from Twinkle Khanna’s bestseller – The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad – it stars Dubey herself alongside accomplished theatre artists Darshan Jariwala, Jayati Bhatia, Meher Dar and Rishi Khurana.
Sisters Noni and Binny are in their sixties. While the former spends her day at the beauty parlor and evenings reminiscing about her husband with a glass of scotch in hand, the latter is a happy-go-lucky spinster, who takes up a new hobby every few weeks. From Zumba to the laughter club, Binny has tried it all and now her new obsession is yoga. She coaxes her elder sister to join her class, conducted by Anand Ji (Darshan Jariwala). Over a few yoga sessions, which Binny conveniently skips, Noni and Anand form an unexplainable bond. They play rummy while talking about their respective spouses, old-age and address their loneliness. In the midst of this, Noni’s daughter (played by Meher Acharia Dar) is back from the US. Binny is continuously pressurizing her niece to find a life partner after ending a decade-long relationship. At one point she even says – “At forty-four, a woman is a not single, but a spinster.”
Salaam, Noni Appa hugely benefits from the masterful storytelling by Dubey. The veteran gives the play a fun tone and most of the dialogues will crack you up. Even in its serious moments, the play manages to make you chuckle. There’s no interval – just two hours of non-stop laughter. Binny is the most colorful character and Jayati Bhatia plays her with utmost ease. Lillette's Noni is a prim and proper lady who mostly cares about what people think of her. Dubey seems perfect for the part and her dialogue delivery is spot on. Meher Acharia Dar and Rishi Khurana (as the watchman-cum-cook-chipkali bhagane wala) have smaller parts but add immense value. Since this play is presented by Fab India, the outfits worn by the characters are splendid. The sets are quite simple as most of the proceedings take place in their homes.
Salaam, Noni Appa now travels to Jaipur, Hyderabad, and Kolkata. It’s a grand production backed by big names in the field of theatre. Going by the audience's reaction at its second show in Mumbai, this one will definitely have a long run. You can get your tickets for the upcoming shows here.