Surely Pooja Bedi’s fortunes have not fallen so low as to force her to accept the kind of exploitative part that she performs in Carry on Papa (a Spandan presentation, Vidya Mandir, July 10)?

By appearing as the oomph-girl hired to put some vim back into the life of a dhoti-clad businessman-cum-family man leading a very boring existence, she merely typecasts herself further as cheesecake. At least her agent should have warned her that the script doesn’t give her a single intelligent line; hardly surprising, of course, given that the play itself contains few such lines. With its vulgar, repetitive dialogue and a plot centred on whether the old man finally corners her, it’s dubious if this “comedy” translated by Sirish Patel improves upon its Marathi source.

When Wow, What a Girl came to town last year, this critic asked two questions whose answers could only be deferred till we next saw Pooja on stage. One, is she naive beyond her years? Answer: yes, for if she had enough brains she wouldn’t deliberately choose to project the image of a sexpot. Two, can she act? This answer remains deferred, since a woman doesn’t need acting talent in the role under review—she just needs a good physique and a skimpy wardrobe (with which Pooja occasionally seems uncomfortable this time).

The real star is the Papa—that stout old veteran of Bombay farces, Dinyar Contractor, who also directs this production by Images. Yet he, too, is susceptible to missed cues and muffed speeches, leaving an impression of under-rehearsed hurry that forms the signature tune to the whole show. Shobha Khote, as his wife, does not impress at all. In fact, the greatest fun occurs when Contractor leaves the dramatic narrative altogether and addresses planted spectators who walk out or interrupt on cue—but that’s no compliment to the basic story.


Nadira Babbar’s theatre group from Bombay, Ekjut, entertained Calcuttans with Khajur men Atkā (Sangit Kala Mandir, June 26). Although it just comprises farcical episodes constructed round a thin plot, Jayrup Jivan shows some promise both as dramatist and director, creating a few genuinely funny sequences such as the footsie under the dinner table and the slapstick of characters avoiding the aim of a loaded pistol. While the three central actors—the virtuous lawyer (Ashok Varma), his mystery-loving wife (Abha Parmar) and the gourmand servant (Krishna Sharma)—perform well, the others ham it along.

(From The Telegraph, 23 July 1993)