Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Staying with a gay friend?


Staying with a gay friend?

16 Jun 2009, 0000 hrs IST, IANS








The humour of the original play was intact, and the characters did not come across as effeminate, as in Hindi films.

The play in progress

The play in progress

Theatre director Sameer Thakur’s Indian take on Doric Wilson’s 1979 play A Perfect Relationship is an intelligent comment on gay relationships in contemporary India.

Adapted by Thakur of Cathaa Yatra, a Delhi-based community theatre company, A Perfect Relationship was staged to a housefull American Centre in the capital recently.

The play, which has won acclaim since it was staged in the capital in 2008, has been recommended for the Dublin International Theatre Festival in 2009 and has entered the archives of New York’s National Museum of Performing Arts. It was first performed in New York in 1980.

Reminisces Doric in one his interviews about the making of the A Perfect Relationship: “I was interviewing a potential roommate to share my Bedford Street apartment. When I asked him why he wanted to move, he answered, ‘You could write a play about what happened to me.’ It seems his lover brought home a trick (another man) and they decided to live together. So they kicked him out, but the trick only wanted the apartment so it was only a matter of time until the trick also evicted the lover. Three weeks later the first draft of A Perfect Relationship was finished (but the interviewee didn’t move in).”

For Thakur, the scenario of the queer New York City of the 1970s becomes the humorous story of Sunny and Rehaan, two flatmates, who are great friends, but not lovers as they insist. The roommates, who spend most of their time gossiping and downing shots of vodka, suddenly find their lives turning upside down when Ashwin, a ‘gay’ friend decides to take over their lovely flat in the middle of south Delhi.

It leads to hilarious twists of feigned love, betrayal and cunning deceit. Manpreet, aka Mandy, the self-styled landlady adds to the confusion. She makes a living sub-letting small flats where she walks in anytime with her boyfriend of the day. Mandy is loud, crass with her Punjabi-laced English, but good at heart. The play ends with Ashwin getting what he wants – the flat and good guys losing out. But there’s hope in the end.

The strength of the play lies in its insights into the 21st century gay world of Delhi. The men have their insecurities – both in bed and outside – and are vulnerable to betrayals.

This alternative universe – like the straight world – is peopled by double-crossers who would do anything for money; even two-timing with a girl for small favours. It comments on closet relationships of the affluent gay men. Ashwin is the rich guy, who wants to set up his love interest in Sunny and Rehaan’s flat to carry on with his ‘personal life’. “Even my wife does not know about my personal life,” he proclaims.

“We put it up for production in 2008 in Delhi and in NCR. Most people in the audience said it was a courageous effort because of the social context. We let the humour remain as it is without deviating from the original play. The play has references to the current gay rights movement in India,” said Sameer, adding, “The audience was not laughing at the gay characters because they were natural.”




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