A ‘Sholay’ replay: Asrani reanimates classic act for theatre

New Delhi: Fan or not, most cinelovers remember veteran actor-comedian Govardhan Asrani for his “Jailor” scene in the 1975 hit “Sholay”. A reenactment of it in his play “Makhichoos” comes after almost 43 years, reminding us why the thespian is loved both on screen and stage.

“Makhichoos” — an “Indianised” adaptation of the French classic “The Miser” — is an 80-minute Hindi play centered on the parsimony of protagonist Topan Lal, and has Asrani play the lead. It was staged at Shri Satya Sai Auditorium here and at a mall in Noida last week.

Sporting a traditional Himachali Topi and kurta jacket, the 77-year-old infused a vibrant energy onto the stage, and brought alive the character of Topan Lal, a miserly widower, who, in the process of finding spouses for his children, ends up in a comic confusion.

As two love stories develop as sub-plots in the play, a money-minded Topan Lal’s 10,000 buried gold coins are discovered and stolen. The show culminates in a win-win for all.

The play’s director Pranav Sachdev, who also played Topan Lal’s son, said the idea to induct the classic scene from “Sholay” was his.

From “Angrezon Ke Zamane Ke Jailor” of “Sholay” — a role etched in the memory of most Indian filmgoers — Asrani became “Angrezon Ke Zamane Ke Kanjoos”, and reenacted the scene in the same voice.

Performing to a packed house, the “Hera Pheri” star was as expressive on stage as he is in films.

How different is acting for the stage and for film?

Asrani maintained that there is no room for retakes in theatre, and told IANS that the technique changes according to the medium.

“It is the same actor in theatre and cinema, just the technique of acting changes,” he said.

For play’s co-producer Ishaan Soni, “theatre is an actor’s medium” whereas “film a director’s medium”.

He said that Asrani does theatre whenever he wants to test his acting.

Peppered with satirical jibes at politicians, and fugitive business tycoons, the slow-paced play strikes a chord among its intended target group of viewers aged 30 and above.

“We had to make it contemporary. So, we threw in a lot of current affairs and elements taken from the Indian social fabric to make it relevant,” the show’s director Pranav Sachdeva explained.

Other cast members included Nirmal Kothari, Gurnavdeep Singh, Nupur Nagpal, Anubha Arora, and Nirupama Verma.

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