Forget about kiss, even a passionate look by the lady performer of Loretta at her hero is disgraceful in the eyes of the Censor Board. By Karan Bhardwaj
Until now, the ‘Sanskari’ Censor Board had only clipped movies. Theatre has become their latest victim. As the audiences are rejoicing thespian Sunil Shanbag’s eponymous play Loretta at Kamani Auditorium, the censor board officials with a ‘certificate of morality’ walk up to the stage and object the way Loretta, the protagonist, is looking ‘passionately’ at her hero. “Looking passionately at a man is not allowed, not allowed…” the official declares while imitating Loretta’s look in rather distasteful manner. He adds a ‘kiss’ is strictly prohibited before the viewers. (Remember James Bond controversy?)
The audiences, instead of turning red in anger, burst into laughter yet again. Before you draw conclusions, let us tell you that the sequence is one of the side shows of the play where director Shanbag himself appears as the Censor chief creating ruckus due to so-called profanity on the stage. Many such side shows have been organised during the two-and-half-hour play to keep the audience engaged while the set is being changed behind curtains. Most of these mini-musical acts mock present social and political developments that have left people stunned. Another interesting side show was on tampering with history books.
For the record, Shanbag’s Loretta is his first attempt at tiatr, a musical drama popular in Goa. Tiatr generally revolves around social, religious and political themes, focused predominantly on Konkani. True to its genre, Loretta is set in the 70s on a river island in Goa. It’s a captivating satire told through a beautiful story of an Anglo Indian girl, Loretta, trying to adjust in the diminishing world of Konakanis in Goa. She has been brought to the island by her live-in partner Rafael who has no attachment to his soil. However, his father, Antonio Piedade Moraes, is a great votary of the Konkani language and rather a cultural custodian of the region.
The narrative deals with a mix of issues like modernity vs tradition, cultural xenophobia, language barriers and labyrinth of human relationships. However, everything is combined masterfully by Shanbag in his joyful story. You sail through the play with a gentle smile while longing for Goa.
Kudos to the wonderful comic timing of the artistes who didn’t flip out of the moment even for once! You cannot help but fall in love with sweet Loretta, played by Rozzlin Pereira. She is outspoken yet mysterious, independent yet vulnerable. Rozzlin takes a little time but totally accepts her character midway. We learnt it’s her major break in mainstream theatre. Way to go, girl! Saattvic, who dabbles in writing and direction in theatre, has played Rafael with aplomb. Brownie points for his attractive voice. Abhijit Bhor as Antonia is dominating. His ability to invoke varied emotions is backed by his long career in the field. He’s the guy who played Ravan in the Ramleela scenes of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Scrap Ship Captain in Airlift. Shilpa Sane as Audu, Kailash Waghmare as Miguel and Shailesh Hejmadi as Pedro, all playing locals and domestic help, are talented artistes. They are hilarious in a kitchen sequence where they pretend to be the scholars to judge Loretta’s Konkani skills. The entertainer of the show is none other than Danish Husain as Caitu. As a domestic help, the character has got impeccable sense of humour, amazingly brought alive by Husain.
Overall, the scent of traditional Goa that has everything to do with Konkani (sorry not with Titos Lane, the present party hub), is deliciously dispersed all over through witty dialogues, vintage costumes, quaint props and even Goa-Latin music.
The live performance by the group comprising Amit Mhatre, Krunal Shah, Rohit Das and Vivek Date, is blissfully integrated into the play. They are totally devoted to the act even when they were not playing. During the breaks, musician Asif Ali Beg, an acclaimed dubbing artiste for several characters including ‘Winnie the Pooh’, croons provocative lyrics by Varun Grover. History and Language are quite in-your-face songs for those tampering with facts.
Each one of us has a little Goa inside. So we suggest you attend this play. The play, presented by Aadyam Theatre, is going to be staged at Kamani Auditorium today (May 28, 2016) at 7:30 pm.
PS: The dominant laughter as recorded in this video is of Poonam Sinha, wife of BJP Parliamentarian Shatrugan Sinha. She was sitting right behind the reporter of Born of Web.