One of the most exquisite experiences that you can have in India, in public, is watching a brilliant troupe of actors and artists performing a well written, well directed, thoroughly engrossing gay themed play. Such was the experience at the premier of ‘On Vacation’ staged at the Taj Banjara, Hyderabad.It was from the house of Sutradhar, a Hyderabadi home grown theatre company and directed by Vinay Varma an accomplished theatre personality (he has acted in a Hollywood movie-Beeper starring Harvey Keitel and his latest film was Mukhbiir). It’s originally a Marathi play ‘Chotyashya Suttit’ written by Sachin Kundalkar.
The overall theme was the dynamics of the man-woman, man-man relationships in modern day urban India and the vulnerable side of human as a social being.
It is set in the background of our amchi Mumbai apartment. Uttara, the feminist elitist female protagonist, is in a live in relationship with a much mellowed, less assertive, garbage in the river kind chef (on the sea) Karthik. She is a successful high flying actress basking in the glory of her new found femdom (female freedom). She considers marrying Karthik and bearing a child for him as a threat to her freedom and an encroachment of her female empowerment. Even this very strong lady feels insecure somewhere deep within and in many a situation turns out to be a conformist taking a diplomatic stance while discussing issues with journalists.
Later Cyrus, schoolmate of Uttara drops in from Canada for a short vacation along with his boyfriend Vyom. They come open to this live in couple about their relationship and share all the problems they had to face in establishing their relationship. They also express their desire to get married and adopt children.
Finally, in something of an epilogue, Karthik gists the audience on how intricate our relationships are and how varied our responses are to different situations; sometimes defending ourselves and sometimes deceiving others. One must also acknowledge the maturity of the Hyderabadi audience that received this iconoclastic play so gracefully, and never showed the slightest brouhaha over even the gay kissing scene.
This is one of the rare pieces of art in India where the issue of homosexuality is very subtly and artistically dealt keeping in mind Indian sensibilities. The portrayal was very humane and not merely an act of comedy and at the same time not getting into activism, for people have after all come in for a nice evening.