'Lahanpan Dega Deva!' - the old wine still retains its own flavour
During 60s, writer-actor Mr Bal Kolhatkar was a renowned personality on the Marathi stage. He presented Marathi plays based mainly on the emotional attachment between a sister and a brother. 'Vahato Hi Durvanchi Judi', written and acted by Mr Kolhatkar, was one of the most popular plays in those days, which received an overwhelming response. As a playwright, poet, actor, and director, he had made a deep impact on the drama audience. His entry on the stage, always received a big applause. He had his own style of delivering the speedy dialogues in one breath. Mr. Kolhatkar followed the success of his 'Durvanchi Judi' with the plays produced under the same banner. 'Denaryache Haath Hazaar' and 'Lahanpan Dega Deva!' are the two best examples.
Now, when we see all the old hit plays of 60s and 70s are being reproduced by various groups of Marathi producers/directors and artists, they did not miss Mr.Bal Kolhatkar’s popular play ‘Lahanpan Deg Devaa’. Few years ago, actress Nivedita Saraf had experimented with this play by herself playing the sister’s role, while Prasad Oak played the brother, originally played by Mr. Bal Kolhatkar. Now, we see the play once again being presented with a new star cast and directed by Mangesh Kadam.
Based on the show off lifestyle of some people of those days, during the period 1960s; the play presents one such family of Sahastrabudhes. Father Appasaheb is under the debt at his town Ratnagiri and son Vishwanath is making losses while running a shop and increasing his creditor’s list. Vishwanath’s younger sister is in love with a music teacher, whose father too is under heavy debt. But, they pose, as if they have some status in society. Everything remains under cover, until Vishwanath’s brother in law Ananta Utpaat arrives from South Africa. But, he is frank enough to admit that he is broke and borrows money openly from different people, in the name of Sahasrabudhes.
Ananta however helps the family to stay together happily, using his ideology. When Sr. Sahasrabudhe arrives from Ratnagiri, Ananta poses as a business partner of Vishwanath and takes the old man into confidence. Ananta’s sister tries to defend her brother, like a true sister; but, when she sees the worst happening, she takes her husband’s side and asks Ananta to leave home. But, Ananta has different plans. In the climax scene, he gives a surprise to his sister and the Sahasrabudhe family. The play ends with a happy note, as used to be the practice in 60s and 70s.
Director Mangesh Kadam has not made any changes in the original script of Mr. Bal Kolhatkar. To play the former stage icon’s role, he found his Ananta in the versatile actor Mr. Sharad Ponkshe, who has played this pivotal role in his own style. Director Mangesh Kadam himself plays the role of helpless Vishwanath, with a peculiar body language and awkward walking style. But, the selection of Jayant Savarkar to play the character of Vishwanath’s father has worked very well. The slim and supple veteran actor proved his spontaneity through his remarkable performance. In fact, the combination of these three actors together, offered wholesome entertainment through every scene, converting it into situation based comedy.
The young pair of Sachin Suresh and Spruha Joshi matched very well with each other, though, they had limited scope. Spruha had some scope. To interact with all four major characters. Leena Bhagwat in that important role of a housewife and Ananta’s sister, depicted the helplessness of a woman flawlessly. Others in supporting cast have played their parts well. It was a good decision to present the same actors in different small characters with the help of make up and costumes. The references to that particular era of 60s , reminds one and all about the value of money and a message to live a happy contented life within one’s limits. Time has changed, but the attitude of the people hasn’t. That's why, the theme of this old play still works even at the present time. This three hour long play has two intervals. 'Lahanpan Dega Deva!' is a wonderful presentation, displaying a good team work. The old wine, still retains its own flavour.
by Ulhas Shirke © MMW