Fan-ning O’er It: Sir Sir Sarla

Posted on 8 July, 2016 by Team Wishberry

Play: Sir Sir Sarla

Writer: Makarand Deshpande

Director: Makarand Deshpande


Makarand Deshpande as Professor G P Palekar

Ahana Kumra as Sarla

Sanjay Dadhich as Fanidhar

Romi Jaspal as Keshav

Makarand Deshpande’s Ansh Theatre Group has been responsible for some of the most amazing plays in the country. Their ace, though, remains Sir Sir Sarla. After several missed opportunities, I finally managed to catch it at the ongoing Ansh Theatre Festival at Prithvi.

My curiosity had hit peak over the years, and the play surpassed all the expectations that I had developed.

The plot of Sir Sir Sarla revolves around the love triangle between Fanidhar, Sarla and Professor. A few years have passed by in the lives of these characters, and as memories usually do, the past has now come and stood in front of the trio. Since, Professor Palekar teaches literature, and Fanidhar and Sarla are his students, the complications and the philosophies are discussed with some really lovely recital of, and reference to, Hindi poetry. This alone sets an unexpected tone for the play.

The characters also symbolise life, in a way. Sarla, for example, stands for the changes in life and our acceptance of it.

It’s widely known that Sir Sir Sarla marks a huge milestone in Makarand Deshpande’s writing. And rightly so. The characters are layered beautifully and they’re all kept on the same page with such unique beauty. Fanidhar is an angry man, feeling exploited to some extent. But his anger is laced with such witty, situational humour, the audience cannot decide whether they like his humour or are disturbed by his anger. Despite this, Fanidhar will win your heart, and so will Sanjay Dadhich who plays the character dutifully. Sarla’s innocent heart has a beautiful world-view, but reality is always conflicting with her own imagination and understanding. Keshav, the last character to enter the story, understands life, but through cricket. Unlike the rest of the characters, he does not understand and hence appreciate poetry; so his understanding of life happens through his love, cricket.

The characters also symbolise life, in a way. Sarla, for example, stands for the changes in life and our acceptance of it. Fanidhar is the rebel against winds of change and stands for a stagnated life, and Keshav stands for a systemised lifestyle. When these three different approaches collide, there is bound to be an explosion. And it’s an explosion worth revelling in. What also adds to the conflict is the lack of understanding between the characters and their connections.  This is where professor Palekar steps in, and adds a fourth “outsider to one’s own life” perspective to it.

Sir Sir Sarla premiered in 2001 with a stellar cast including Sonali Kulkarni and Anurag Kashyap.

It is such layering that makes this a genius story in itself. The presentation in the form of play has been done equally well. The setting, the lighting, and the performances do justice to the writing. Makarand Deshpande, the director, is one of the best in the country and his eccentricity puts him up there. He maintains that with Sir Sir Sarla. Ahana Kumra emotes joy, fun, laughter, sadness and fierceness with such ease. Dadhich embodies Fanidhar’s eccentric anger, and witty yet innocent humour perfectly. Romi Jaspal as Keshav has a small part to play, but he is unforgettable. But it is Makarand Deshpande, the actor, who personifies theatre. He is swift, and carries an energy about him like that of a teenager. And yet, his character’s maturity is unmissable. He is effortless and completely at home with Professor Palekar. Yep. He’s just that good.

Sir Sir Sarla premiered in 2001 with a stellar cast including Sonali Kulkarni and Anurag Kashyap. The play, despite a fairly new cast stands strong on the pillars of popular demand and its story. It will return, hopefully soon, and I will watch it again. And I’m confident I’ll find some more details to rave about. Such is the beauty of this play.

Makarand Deshpande, during the introduction, joked that they have been trying to shut this play down for years now. But good plays never die, he added. This is true. This play will probably never see death. It will keep coming back due to popular demand, and open to a full house every time.

Sir Sir Sarla is one of those plays, which is to be watched by anyone who claims to even remotely like theatre.

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