Chandigarh: Saiyan Bhaye Kotwal, a musical play adapted from the popular Marathi original Vichha Majhi Puri Kara, written by Vasant Sabnis and translated into Hindi by Usha Bannerjee, is proof of how things get lost in translation. While its intent wins your attention, ineffective writing and amateurish humor spoil the party.
The lingo the character’s mouth, in references to the sequences where a hep Krishna and his devotee take jibes at women, is in poor taste. Wannabe in its comic attempt, the particular episode isn’t exactly relevant to the play’s core idea. What the play is otherwise effective in, is to progress as a musical, as the songs do well to take its story forward. The Marathi flavor in it comes through with the costume styling and laavni the use of the live music that adds value.
The setting of the play, a mix of modern times and the royal era, is interesting. But, what the play does to straddle both worlds (in terms of the dialogues and characterizations) is far from convincing. There are cross-references to social campaigns, political personalities, and parties that are force-fit into the narrative. The play, lasting close to two hours, goes downhill in the second hour. The rocky equation between the new kotwal and hawaldar (who was expected to be the kotwal as per the rules of the kingdom) and the latter’s equation with a dancer (who is interested in the hawaldar) forms the heart of the play