Wednesday, Sep 26, 2018 | Last Update : 08:44 AM IST

Suku Bai truly enthrals while A Private Affair draws no laughs

THE ASIAN AGE. | KAVITA NAGPAL
Published : Jul 11, 2018, 1:48 am IST
Updated : Jul 11, 2018, 1:47 am IST

In her own inimitable style Suku Bai also tells us that the man of the house where she works is interested in another woman.

Saku Bai, played by Monica, is a good mimic and imitates all the people around her. She is particularly good at describing party scenes where a diamond ring is stolen by a guest.
 Saku Bai, played by Monica, is a good mimic and imitates all the people around her. She is particularly good at describing party scenes where a diamond ring is stolen by a guest.

I finally saw Saku Bai, written by Nadira Zahir Babbar and directed and enacted by Monica Mishra. It was an interesting show about the Bais in Mumbai. Saku Bai whose real name is Shakuntala is a bindaas bai, who narrates her life’s experiences on stage. She had come to Mumbai as a child with her mother, brother and sister. There was no question of schooling for her as it was considered non-essential. So she finds a job as a maid in an apartment where she is a sole occupant at the moment.

The Talent Promoterz presented the play at the India Habitat Centre, on Saturday, July 7. Saku Bai, played by Monica, is a good mimic and imitates all the people around her. She is particularly good at describing party scenes where a diamond ring is stolen by a guest. She devises a plan to retrieve the ring from guest who has stolen it and return it to her mistress to whom it rightly belongs.

She sings and cries and laughs and dances all along the play as she describes her life as a bai. The sad portions in the play refer to the underbelly of the city and the goings on in the life of the lower middle class. Saku bai was raped as a teenager by her mama (her mother’s brother) but she was told to keep quiet about it. Her mother then leaves the protection of her brother and the mother and moves into her own little kholi with her kids.

In her own inimitable style Suku Bai also tells us that the man of the house where she works is interested in another woman.

The play also talks about Saku’s beautiful younger sister who runs away from the village with a man and is pushed into prostitution. The sister eventually commits suicide and her last rites are performed by Saku Bai and her mother.

It would have been better if Monica had left the direction of the play to somebody else for there were too many repetitions of actions in the present production. Her imitations were good in places but by and large they looked similar and lacked variation. Monica is a good actress but requires a good director to bring out her talent.

The other play I saw was, A Private Affair, in Hinglish. Written and directed by Dr M. Sayeed Alam, it was a big disappointment. Why was this title given to the play which centred around a skirt which appears and disappears. The play is set in a hotel suite where the doctor (psychiatrist) is staying. She oversleeps and misses her flight. Her secretary is in love with her, though he is married with two children.

The play was supposed to be a comedy but there was little to laugh about. The doctor has two patients, one whose mother is the queen of Patiala. The queen has a grandson who pretends to be a monkey, the doctor can cure him if he bites somebody and that person in turn behaves like a monkey. This is what happens at the end.

In the meantime, there is a Captain from the Indian Army, who has retired and now makes table lamps from empty liquor bottles. This man has booked the suite in number 13, and since the secretary forgets to inform the hotel management that they have prolonged their stay for another day, confusion erupts. The play is all about this confusion.

The writer is a well-known theatre-critic

Tags: suku bai