LA MIRADA, CA – ‘Kishan vs. Kanhaiya Reloaded’, featuring Paresh Rawal in the lead, who needs no introduction to Hindi comedy lovers filled the air with continuous laughter at three different venues in the Southland. Starting off on Sept 3 at the John Kroc Theatre in San Diego, at the La Mirada Theater for...
Audiences were regaled by this topical play that not only entertained but gave plenty of thought provoking issues to ponder over. Though the play has had many performances in the US in the past, the new production had fresh dialogue that made it relevant to the present day society.
Rawal portrays the lead character of the play, Kishanlal Mehta, an antiques dealer and a “nastik” (atheist) who questions the existence of God. He takes any and every chance given to him to poke fun of other’s beliefs and he is certain that every individual controls their own destiny. The story, revolved around Kishanlal Mehta, who though an atheist, profits from selling purported religious artifacts to gullible buyers. His smugness is wiped off his countenance when an act of God crumbles his world around him, when his store is destroyed in an earthquake. His efforts to get restitution from his insurance company are denied on technicalities, and he files a law suit against God— to recompense him for his losses.
What follows next are a series of events that at first raise societal ire against him for shaking the foundations of religious belief. Eventually, he garners the interest of the media and succeeds in putting forth questions that provoke thought. The subject matter appears to be weighty, but is provided with such humor, that even insults leveled at some contemporary figures seem justifiable. There are pithy references to present day situations and the blind faith of unquestioning masses, is mercilessly dissected to the bare bones. In one such exchange with the representatives of organized religion, Kishan asks,” have you heard of disco namaz, or disco ramadan?” Finding no answer, he derides,”disco-dandiya” and requests that the practice of a commercialized Navratri should revert back to its religious significance.
The youthful 65- year-old Rawal, delivers his lines with clarity and such comedic timing, that the audience is under a barrage of punch lines throughout the play. His politically incorrect utterances are a basic trait of his character that is skepticism. How a transformation occurs in his life is the goal of the play, which also attempts to affect a change in society in its attitude towards superstition and blind faith. Rawal is ably supported by a cast that includes Rinku Patel playing his wife, Sushila; Chirag Vora playing a live-wire attorney; Naimish Dave playing a bean counting insurance agent; Jimit Trivedi playing an enlightening God Kanhaiya; Chetan Dhanani playing the bombastic priest Sidhdheshwari Maharaj; Vimal Upadhyay playing the manipulative Swami Leeladhar and a demure Nishi Doshi playing a news reporter. The technical team for the production included Satish Javeri, Rajendra Harsoria and Ravindran Mangela.
The show in La Mirada was hosted by Dylan Entertainment and Super Entertainment. The Redondo Beach performance, presented by the Association of Los Angeles Physicians of Indian Origin (ALAPIO), in association with the Bhalla brothers, Bhalinder and Virender , of DeeMas, a charitable trust, began with the showing of a video of ALAPIO members extolling the achievements of the organization in providing free medical services to the indigent Los Angeles population. In introducing the group, Dr. Bharat Patel—the force behind the presentation of the play stated that ALAPIO was proud in fulfilling its pledge of opening a free medical clinic, and reminded the audience that the proceeds from the evening’s performance would be used for the clinic and requested the audience to support ALAPIO in the noble cause. Dr. Parvin Syal, spoke of the need for participation of the public in this venture and stated that the aim of the organization was education as well.
The Show in San Diego was hosted by Mohan Singh and Harshad Mody Friendly Events. Rawal, who was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014, and was awarded the Padma Shree in the same year, commented about his tenure in parliament. He has had an 85 % attendance record and takes his responsibility very seriously. Members of the audience were entertained by Rawal’s wit and those who had an opportunity to interact with him personally, were charmed by his affable manner.
(Inputs by Sonam Mirpuri)