For the past one month, all we have been hearing about is Avanti, the Grand Musical. It has been the flavour of the month. Billboards on the streets, posters on walls, activities on Facebook and flash mobs in different malls; Avanti made sure they connect to the masses and pull everyone into the theatres for their performance. Avanti was performed from 29th of May till 25th of June, and thatís commendable in itself to perform a two -our play for so many days. I have been reading reviews and was highly impressed by the positive feedback the entire team got. Of course, I had to watch it too. And, trust me, I was impressedÖ really impressed. Since it was a musical, its USP had to be the dances and they didnít disappoint us there. The dances were amazing!
Avanti was an adaptation of Bollywood movie Aaja Nachle, the one that marked the comeback of Madhuri Dixit. Avanti was completely the same story with a little twist in terms of characters. The songs were placed in the exact same manner and positions as were in the movie. But performing a whole movie on stage with a single set was highly praiseworthy. Letís start with the good points of Avanti; the dances, the lighting, the sound. There were a number of dancers on stage in each performance but their coordination was in perfect sync; never missing a beat or forgetting a step. The effects they created through their lighting made one scene look different from the other. They sure worked hard and it paid off in the end.
So, is that it? Nah, there are certain things I have issues with and thatís what I am going to share here. The funniest character of the play who was introduced in the end at the curtain call and who was supposedly the show stealer was Sheila, the eunuch we more commonly call khusra. He was the comic relief of the play, not that it was a grim play that needed comic relief, yet the idea behind this character was merely that. Personally, I found Rana sahib (played by Saqib Sumeer) to be funnier and more entertaining than Sheila (played by Rana Majid). I donít get the point of it. Why do we find eunuchs so funny? They act desperate, flirt with the guys in a way our women arenít usually allowed to do on stage, throw tantrums, act more feminine than the girls and we all laugh. I am sure if a girl did quarter of what such characters do, we will be appalled. There is just one answer to all of it. They are NOT funny. No. Get over it. Period.
Sheila in Avanti threw herself practically at every man on stage and guess what... there was a song in which she stepped down the stage and tried seducing the guys from the audience by dancing with them or sitting in their laps or even standing on them while moving with the beat. Well, the guy beside me kept on praying, ďPlease God! Donít bring Sheila here.Ē Yes, and most of the people from the audience found it so entertaining that they missed out the well choreographed dance act that was being performed on stage, or maybe they were praying the same. Come on, what were you thinking, guys? This is the educated class of our society that finds it humorous to see khusras doing absurd acts. It makes me wonder how we are different from the uneducated, ignorant lot. They are a reality; letís stop treating them like a joke.
I am sure the guy who played Sheila is an excellent actor. And brave, too, for it takes guts to do what he did. But it was completely uncalled for. For me, Rana sahib was enough comic relief. The story would have survived with Rana sahib alone as he is another tremendous actor with great presence of mind and engaging body language. The story, the scenes, the script didnít rely on Sheila to make it amusing; it was Rana sahib all along.
This piece is by no means meant to put down Avanti. The cast and crew of the play was fresh, the magic they created on stage through their dances was exhilarating, the lighting effects to enhance the mood of the scenes were spellbinding, itís just that we need to know how to make things work without crossing the line.