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Friends with benefits

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

Even today, in more open times, the relationship portrayed in Bernard Slade’s Tony award-winning romantic comedy 'Same Time Next Year' would defy categorisation. In 1975 the term ‘friends with benefits’ wasn’t even invented.

A play about marital infidelity has been winning fans over the years, including many versions in India, in several languages—it must be among the most popular two-handers.

Right now, there are two versions of the play running in Mumbai — Raell Padamsee’s Rohit Roy-Mona Singh starrer, 'Unfaithfully Yours' (that does not acknowledge the source) and the more recent 'Main Aur Tum' (Slade given credit) directed by Sharman Joshi, who also plays the lead, with Tejashri Pradhan. (Interestingly, Sharman’s uncle Pravin Joshi and father Arvind Joshi played the same role opposite Sarita Joshi in the 1978 Gujarati play 'Mausam Chhalke', and his brother-in-law Rohit is doing the English version).

The play has a charming plot about a man and a woman who have an unplanned one-night stand at a holiday resort and decide to meet at the same time each year, at the same place. Both are married with kids and promise never to contact each other through the year; this strange affair carries on over 25 years. The two of them are committing adultery, and deceiving their spouses, yet this annual tryst actually helps strengthen their marriages.

Very few in the audience are shocked; on the contrary, they wish they could sustain a ‘pure’, emotionally-fulfilling friendship like that. Far from being sordid, there is something wholesome about the play, because of its humorous and non-judgmental writing. Which is why, in spite of being dated—the sexual revolution happened in the intervening years—the play never goes out of style.

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