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Never too late for love

Tuesday, November 21, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

A story from Twinkle Khanna’s book of short stories made it to the stage with a whirlwind tour of many cities. 'Salaam, Noni Appa', adapted for the stage by Adhir Bhat and directed by Lillette Dubey, is one of those rare stories in which sisters do not compete over a man! It is a warm and amusing story about an autumn romance.

Dubey plays the title role of the sixty-something Noni, a widow, whose only daughter lives overseas. She spends most of her time at the home of her sister Binni (Jayati Bhatia), a loud, cheerful woman, who keeps picking up new fads and dragging Noni to all kinds of courses. When she decides to take up yoga, the teacher Anand (Darshan Jariwalla), comes into their lives.

Bini loses interest quite fast and moves on to something else, while Noni continues with yoga. The exercise sessions spill over into card games, and shared confidences. Slowly the two are attracted towards each other, but since he is married, the feelings are never articulated.

Anand’s home life is rather unhappy, what with a shrewish wife (Meher Acharia-Dar), who is constantly nagging and berating him. Actually, the nastiness of the wife is just an excuse to sway the audiences’ sympathy towards Anand and Noni; with a wife like that, who would not seek companionship elsewhere.

Noni is not exactly lonely, but is still in the grip of memories of her dead husband. When she meets a man who understands her, she is drawn towards him. Then his wife barges in one day and abuses Noni shrilly in the coarsest of words. Noni is shaken and decides that a respectable life with nobody being able to point fingers at her character is best and breaks off her friendship with Anand. Ironically, it is this incident that pushes Anand into taking a stand and deciding that at his age he has a right to a peaceful life.

The somewhat flimsy story is fleshed out well and Twinkle Khanna’s humour enhanced. With a competent design and good performances, the production is likely to appeal to Lillette Dubey’s audiences, as well as Khanna’s readers.

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