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Tanaaz Irani's 'Selfie' is a slice-of-life comedy enacted by five women

The play is meant to be about the intersection of stories that everyone, including men, can relate to

Ritwik Sharma 




The two-act play stars Tanaaz Irani, Kishwar Merchant, Shweta Gulati, Priya Mallik and Dimple Shahtesting.. we are here.... As the female buddy film, Veere Di Wedding, packs a punch at the box office, a new production of a play inspired from a Marathi original and helmed by five women from the world of television and cinema is hoping to make similar waves in theatre.

Selfie, as the name suggests, is in some ways about the selfies we take to capture the many moments of our life. But it also goes beyond selfies to explore the self.

“Selfie is about the pictures we take in our lives, and then the filters and colour correction we add so that we portray ourselves as more beautiful than we ordinarily are,” explains Tanaaz Irani, the play’s director and one of its actors. “We succumb to societal pressure. But in this play, we are telling people that your life doesn’t need a filter because you are the best the way you are.”

The two-act play also stars Kishwar Merchant, Shweta Gulati, Priya Mallik and Dimple Shah.

The story is set in a waiting room of a railway station, where the five women from different walks of life meet and interact as they wait for the trains to resume service after a downpour. Irani plays a middle-aged Parsi nurse with an acid tongue and ready sarcasm who considers everyone else to be foolish; Shah portrays a good-natured IT professional; Mallik is in the role of a sought-after television actor; Gulati is a company manager; and Merchant appears as a homemaker.

As the characters get to know one another, they also become familiar with one another’s problems. In the process, they also end up helping one another by recounting their own individual stories that work to change their own and the others’ perspectives.

The play promises to surprise audiences with unexpected twists at three points.

The original play in Marathi was written by Shilpa Navalkar. A Hindi adaptation by Paritosh Painter followed. Irani, who had watched both, made some changes to the original script, including in the ending and characterisation, to suit Hindi- and English-speaking audiences.

Irani alludes to Veere Di Wedding to explain that the play is not “women-centric” but about women who are talking about themselves. It is meant to be about the intersection of stories that everyone, including men, can relate to. She describes the play as a comedy with elements of slice of life, one that seeks to make people laugh their guts out and at the same time shed a tear.

Merchant says for actors occupied primarily with television, theatre performances come as a breather and a learning experience. “Even if I get a small role, I always like to perform in theatre because you get to work with good actors on stage. One can learn from how they react — or not react — on stage,” she says. Delhi-based Felicity Theatre, which is producing the play, plans to stage 20-25 shows across the country.

Actor Rahul Bhuchar, who is also the producer and managing director of Felicity Theatre, says with awareness about issues concerning women and the girl child growing, audiences are relating more and more to everyday stories of women. He adds that a combination of women-centric themes and celebrity appeal can merely draw people to the auditorium. “After the first five minutes of the play, the celebrity factor vanishes and the performances take over. So, the script is our hero, followed by the performances of a set of awesome actors,” he says.

As a production company, Felicity Theatre also aims to reverse the notion of theatre being seen as a stepping stone to a career in cinema. “Theatre,” says Bhuchar, “can be a place where actors can fulfil their talent, and also earn a living.”

Selfie will be staged at Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi on June 16

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First Published: Fri, June 08 2018. 23:28 IST