NAATAK company has exceeded all expectations in its production of “Andhera Hone Tak”, hindi version of Frederick Knott’s classic thriller, “Wait Until Dark”. The play is performed with English subtitles projected above the stage, and that makes it a must-see play, for a wider range of audience.
Stage versions of thrillers are rare because suspense and elements of a thriller, including murder, robbery etc. are hard to create on stage. Producer Surender Singh has made a bold attempt in bringing this production and the suspense filled thriller does not disappoint on any count. Clearly, Mukund Marathe has once again proved that he is simply one of the most brilliant directors.
Suneeta Saxena (Sareeka Malhotra) is a housewife, who is also blind, and is married to Sameer Saxena (Puneet) and they live in Shivaji Park, Mumbai. Sameer becomes an innocent transporter of a doll stuffed with contraband, when he brought it home, at the request of a woman, who is now surfaced as dead. Soon thereafter, Sameer is traveling again for business and Suneeta becomes target of three con-men, looking for heroin hidden in a doll. The doll is nowhere to be found because unbeknownst to anyone, a little girl, Aneesha, living in the apartment upstairs, has stolen the doll. The trio play initially manage to get Suneeta worried that her husband will be suspected of murdering the woman and the only way to protect him would be to enable them to have the possession of the doll.
Sareeka Malhotra’s performance as a blind heroine, is brilliant, both vulnerable and at the same time courageous and determined. The three con men, played by Varun Dua, Sanjay Apte, and Amit Sharma are so good at being bad that their performance holds you at the edge of your seats. Aneesha Nema, the little child star gives a phenomenal performance as a bratty but precocious kid. The set design is superb, easy for a supposedly blind person to navigate and yet complex for her to figure out the movements of the intruders. Juhi Mohan has done a great job with lights, helping create the perfect “dark”, that would give Suneeta an edge against the intruders.
Every theater season, I give my recommendation of a “must-watch play of the season” from among South Bay Theater companies, including (NAATAK – www,naatak.org, CityLights – http://www.cltc.org, San Jose Stage – http://www.thestage.org, Theatreworks – http://www.theatreworks.org, EnActe Arts – http://www.enacte.org etc.) and this season, unequivocally, I recommend NAATAK’s “Andhera Hone Tak”, as the “must-watch play of the season”. While the play is performed in Hindi, the English sub-titles, projected above the stage, make it easy for all to enjoy. So remember, you don’t need to understand Hindi to enjoy the suspense, heart stopping tension, spooky lighting, and climactic end, all delivered by flawless performance, in real time.