A blend of folk comedy, traditional dance and satire, *SAIYYAN BHAYE KOTWAL* is the Hindi adaptation (by Usha Banerjee) of the famous Marathi folk play *VICHHA MAJHI PURI KARA* This should be caution enough for the readers as to what they could expect to find here. This play however carefully treads the thin line between a clean and a bawdy act, and turns out to be a literal laugh-a-minute performance that gives more returns on the ticket money than other similar options these days.
Following the traditional format of the Marathi folk theatre, 'tamasha', the performance begins with prayers offered to Lord Ganesh. The drum beats sound fast and upbeat though, and one suspects the proceedings would carry a similar twist. All formalities completed, a while later, the actual play begins with a diminutive Chinese wearing a fancy hat , who ushers in the King of Suryanagari with a shower of bubbles from a bubble blower. Indication enough that this is going to be one helluva show, for the director appears to be in his element, and it does turn out to be so.
The story (original play written by Vasant Sabnis) is simple yet persuasive. After the death of the present kotwal (the head of a region combining several police, the vacant post is grabbed by the prime minister to be filled up by his brother-in-law, a rustic herdsman with no administrative experience. The candidate next in line for the post, the havaldar devises a scheme with the help of his fiance, the Lavani singer Mainawati, to lure the new kotwal into a trap, and gain his rightful place. Additional sidekicks are added to the story in the form of the Sipahi and the eunuch Sakhia