We’ve all heard of numerous mother-in-law vs daughter-in-law squabbles and the ensuing drama that rocks the person caught in between the young husband. Paresh Rawal’s Hindi play Dear Father, however, uses that same premise with an endearing twist at the heart of it — there’s no mother-in-law.
Daughter-in-law Alka Mankad, played by a charming Mrinmayee Godbole, frequently clashes over household matters with her father-in-law Manu Mankad. And as usual, Manu’s son, Ajay Mankad, played by a suitably frustrated Chetan Dhanani, is caught between the two unequal sides of their uneasy right-angled triangle of an existence.
The play, adapted from a Marathi play titled Katkone Trikone (Right-angled triangle), had the mostly North Indian audience at Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Hall, in splits right from the get go. With funny one-liners like, “Aadmi hai ya bimari ki almari?” (Is he a person or an almirah of diseases?), “If I can’t call people I know on the phone, who else am I supposed to call? Manmohan Singh? Even that fellow doesn’t talk,” “Which came first, the egg or the chicken? Whichever you ordered first,” — that was Paresh Rawal proving that his comic timing on stage was just as sharp as his comic timing on camera.
The arguments go back and forth between Manu and Alka, a mathematics gold medallist, who doesn’t know how to cook. That, in Manu’s eyes seems a big minus-point. Alka, on the other hand, cannot tolerate Manu’s regressive views on how women of the household should behave and things spiral towards a surprising climax.
Going by the number of “Yes!” “Exactly” “Pucca” and “Abe yaar” heard, the play connected with the audience — though the agreement seemed to be divided between the younger generation identifying with Alka’s modern avatar and the older generation nodding to Manu’s hilariously outdated quips. The star of the show, rightly, is Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal in his dual role as Manu Mankad and the crime branch inspector who comes to investigate certain happenings at the Mankad house. Directed by Dinkar Jani, the play is driven mostly by flashbacks, alternating between the present day investigation and the arguments between Manu and Alka previously. If there was anything that best showed the huge gap that exists between generations these days, it was Dear Father.