(THE IST) What happens when old flame flickers? Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta, who have been acting together for the last 30 years, come together again in Mera Woh Matlab Nahin Tha (MWMNT) (I didn’t mean that) as old flames staged at Sir John Clancy Auditorium, UNSW in Sydney. The story revolves around Pritam Chopra and Hema Roy ex-lovers of Ballimaran, Chandni Chowk, the famous street where Ghalib penned
his immortal poetry, who separate for reasons not under their control and get married to different people and meet again after 35 years in Lodhi Garden.
Delhi boy Rakesh Bedi, popular stage and television actor, has written and directed the play MWMNT. Bedi has also played comic roles in movies like “Chasme Buddoor” and “Yes Boss”, tried to give MWMNT a comic flavour but ends up making it as emotional melodrama. Pritam and Hema reminiscent their past through the eyes of lens, that forms the prop for the play. With Kadu (Kader Khan) played by Satish Kaushik played as brother of Nigar, Pritam’s wife weaving comic relief amid the serious turn of events.
Both Pritam and Hema go into the flashback and try to figure out what actually caused their separation. Rakesh as Raj Kapoor intermittently finds time to share his story with Hema. His famous lines “he can write Urdu but not read and can read Hindi but not write”, showed his sense of comic timing. But his parting dialogue was a gem. “You don’t wait so much to find your destination that your destination keeps looking for you”.
The second half is more emotional when both the ex-lovers share the incidents of their respective married life. But does their passion reignite the old flame? Bedi leaves it for the audience to decide.
With the play being enacted for the last 15 years, the script has undergone several changes. While most audience came out happy but some resented the Hindu Muslim marriage angle as too political.
Anupam Kher after performing stellar roles in movies and stage, right from his first movie “Saraansh” has honed his skilful handling of the project and gives a flawless performance in MWMNT. Neena Gupta has been away from stage and movies for so long but is not lacking in performance as Hema and Nigar. Her change of accent while switching from Hema to Nigar is natural. Only a natural actor can bring out that. Many thanks go to Anupam Sharma and Maneeesh Sundarjee for bringing this play to Australia.