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What are the dynamics in a relationship between a man and a woman in India? Does the relationship have to end in marriage? What does marriage mean? These are timeless questions and are only some of the issues raised by the Marathi play, 'Lagnabambal' which was held in the city on Saturday.
With its recent show, the play has completed 140 shows at different places like Pune, Mumbai, Nasik, Aurangabad and even Dubai, in the UAE. The play is also scheduled to run in the USA, sometime in August,though the dates are yet to be confirmed. Director Vijay Kenkre says of the planned shows in USA, "We found a sizable Marathi community in Dubai and hope for the same in USA. At the same time, we have noticed that language was not a barrier even for our non-Marathi speaking audience so we expect a favourable response in America too." "The questions we discuss though, about living in and pre-marital sex, are very normal, everyday issues there, so the response will probably be less controversial than it has been in some places in India," he continues.
Written by Madhugandha Kulkarni, Lagnabambal' has raked in an unprecedented number of awards this year. The plot revolves around a court case where Menaka, played by Madhura Velankar, sues Shardul, a character essayed by Rahul Mehendale, because he refuses to marry her. Director Kenkre, "Now such cases cannot really be filed, so the premise of the play - the court case - is really a farce. But the characters and their opinions on marriage and relationships are all very relevant and true to today's society."
Though the issues addressed by the play are quite serious and thought-provoking, the play itself is a slapstick comedy, pointing out the different perceptions and stereotypes people conform to. Kenkre gives full credit for this to playwright Kulkarni, "It has some very real questions for the audience and we were lucky to find a writer like Madhugandha, who has incorporated a lot of humour in the script and made it so interesting."
On the other hand, Kulkarni emphasizes that the humour is in the characters' reactions to the situation. She says, "I'm not joking about marriage. I've included marriage and live-in relationships in the play and there are characters supporting each. What I'm really making fun of here, is how people have their own opinions and stereotypes and will react to a situation depending on that." For instance, the magistrate who presides over the court case; he himself has wanted to marry the woman he has loved for 20 years; so he supports the girl's wish to marry.
However, the magistrate's love interest has her own reasons for not wanting to tie the knot and she supports the boy.
The play also steers the audience through issues such as pre-marital sex, live-in relationship and polygamy. The reactions to the play have been different from varied sections of the society. "In metro cities like Pune, Mumbai and Dubai, audience will definitely find it much easier to relate to the play and its characters," says Kenkre. In other places like Nashik and Aurangabad, he says, though the play has received a great response, he thinks, it was mainly because the audience wanted something different and funny. Kenkre adds that it's a similar case with different age groups. "While the younger generation enjoys the humour and appreciates the discussion of these issues as well, for the older generation, it's simply a refreshing new story," explains the play director.
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