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Musical Mothers

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

The musical Gaa Re Maa, directed by Anahita Uberoi, written by Adhir Bhat and Siddharth Kumar from a story by Ishitta Arun, brings together the sensibilities of a disparate group of theatre folk (English, Hindi, Marathi) to create a feel-good production.

Set in a Mumbai building, the focus is on two mother-son families. Jaya Kelkar (Bharati Achrekar) used to be a famous classical singer, till circumstances came in the way; she now lives in obscurity, but keeps up her riyaaz with her guru (Aseem Hattangady). Her son Prashant (Ruturaj Shinde) goes by the corny name of DJ Paapi and while his gigs are limited to weddings, he hopes to make it big.  

Into a vacant flat upstairs, Anita Peters (Suneeta Rao) moves in with her son to Mumbai, from London, with her rapper son Dave (Danny Sura), after the death of her husband. Zayn Marie Khan completes the cast, as a tenant in the building, and a kind of sounding board for Dave and Prashant, who hit it off with their similar music tastes. The mothers, meanwhile, bond over tea and chat about their problems.

Unknown to Jaya, her son starts experimenting with Anita’s gospel singing, and sneaks up to her flat to record her voice. When musical styles and cultures clash, there is bound to be some friction, but an opportunity comes up for the boys to bring their mothers to the fore (Hattangady also plays an enthusiastic adman), and it would not be a spoiler to reveal that there’s a happy ending with a rousing number that combines the two women’s strong voices (both are talented singers) and personalities.

The slim plot rests on the performers and Bharati Achrekar, bringing a charming warmth to her character, leads the ensemble, that works well together, because the interactions between them are mostly lively and funny. The set (Dhanendra Kawde) with its wall of windows depicting a Mumbai neighbourhood is eye-catching. With Gaa Re Maa, Ishitta Arun (daughter of singer-actress-theatre veteran, Ila Arun) turns producer with her own group Ikigai & Co, and plans to work on a variety of plays.

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