“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”
All situational comedies work on a chosen premise; this one is based on the premise of the successful father-in-law who hates the “lazy” son-in-law, and makes no bones about it, deciding to finally spend some time with his daughter, something he never had the opportunity for before, and how it affects their lives.
In a gist
Packaged as an urban clean comedy, the story is about a successful professor and author Dalip Vaidya who prioritised his pursuit of success in totally isolating himself from his family consisting of his now deceased wife and daughter Diya, with this absence keenly felt by both. A successful architect herself, Diya married a struggling theatre actor Kanav Sareen despite Vaidya’s objection and absence at the wedding.
Obvious tensions ensues from the father’s end and when he comes to live with the couple, the situation sees the accommodating son-in-law trying his best to not bite the bait while residing in close quarters with this hostility. The father and daughter also bond but for how long? Because Vaidya gets back in touch with an old fan-turned-flame, Avni, who quickly shifts into the household as well. The usually kind and loving Diya will allow no one to come in the middle of her growing bond with her long-absent dad and Avni too is strong-willed enough not to give up her on love interest so easily. And the waters churn some more with feminine bile…
Theatre veteran Suman Vaidya plays the role of the father Dalip Vaidya with a quiet elegance that grows to involved parent and unhappy in-law easily and then again to a confused lover and man torn apart by conflicting emotions of passion and paternity. The balancing act required of him is not light and he lives up to the expectations. Vaidya gets caught in a situation that leaves him with a very tough choice, but he goes on to make a shockingly tougher one, in the way establishing the caring steel of a seemingly selfish character. Karishma Singh as Diya was trendy, loving and demanding in parts as required but she faltered merrily in her dialogue delivery all through the play, especially in her emotional scenes. Anumeha Jain plays Avni ably with a light touch and her equation with Kanav is also suitably established through their comic scenes.
Satyender Malik as Kanav was the stand-out of the night. He was the crowd-pleaser and clear favourite in the play judging purely from the reactions of the audience. Right from the beginning scene in which a tepid dance between Kanav and a masked lady does not really light up the stage, to his amusing unending tiffs with Vaidya and his choosing to take on the pacifier’s role when the situation between the daughter-father duo threaten to worsen, to humouring the director of his play on phone and Avni in real-time, Satyender does not let the ball drop and is the complete foil to Vaidya’s character.
He is unsuccessful as a theatre actor and aware of his situation as is made clear in the scene when Vaidya berates him obnoxiously, with not a word of protest from the usually loudly loquacious Kanav. The final twist in the tale takes place in the last scene that forms the crux of the play and depends on his interaction with his father-in-law. And by then, Malik has proven beyond doubt that be it comedy or silence, he understands the tongues of both languages.
About the director
Atul Satya Koushik has managed the astonishing feat of having written 12 plays at a young age, and having directed about 15 productions that have played all over the nation. “Chakravyuh” with Nitish Bharadwaj, a Rakesh Bedi and Himani Shivpuri-starrer “Draupadi” and the much talked about “Raavan ki Ramayan” featuring Puneet Issar are part of his repertoire . After these heavy-duty mythology-based dramas, “Dad’s Girlfriend” is as light an entertainer as they get, set in the modern times.
His aim with this story is very clear that without your family by your side what are all the successes in the world worth? My only question for him is with his choice of resolution for the play. With both the ladies agreeing to see their opposite’s point of view, the ending feels like a complete letdown of all the energies involved.
The set is the drawing room and kitchen of a spacious (think Delhi) 2-bhk and, of course, the ‘bhadaas’ smoking zone, where issues are raised and resolved. The live nazm and geet provided by a singer is a classy touch, as is the efforts of the lighting department.
All in all, Dad’s Girlfriend begins tepidly and ends by tugging at your heart, but is so light like a soufflé that there are barely any traces when you wake up the next morning.
Title of Play: Dad’s Girlfriend
Written and Directed by: Atul Satya Koushik
Cast: Suman Vaidya, Karishma Singh, Satyender Malik and Anumeha Jain
Language: Hindi, English