Though we wanted to present a newer version of the play, given its iconic status, we didn’t want to change its original sensibilities. However, in order to strike a chord with today’s audience, we introduced several new elements.
- Ashutosh Nerlekar, director
Three friends — Moru, Bhaiyya and Bandya — share a house. When the trio learn that Moru’s aunt will be visiting them, they call their girlfriends, purportedly to give her company. Truth, of course, is that they want the company of their girlfriends. But when Moru’s aunt cancels her visit at the last minute, he and Bhaiyya coax Bandya, who works as a female actor for a theatre group, to impersonate the aunt. The plot takes a humorous turn when two oldies — Bhaiyya’s uncle and even one of the girls’ uncle — fall in love with “Moru’s aunt”.
The plot might evoke a sense of deja vu and why not? In the past five decades, the light-hearted storyline and comic sequences of the iconic play Moruchi Mavshi (Moru’s aunt) has inspired several Marathi theatre directors to adapt it. The play, originally written by Pralhad Keshav Atre, was staged for the first time in 1963. Later in 1998, the play adapted by Kirti Kumar for his Hindi film Aunty No. 1, that had actor Govinda playing the lead.
Last week, yet another adaptation of Moruchi Mavshi was staged in Pune will represent the city at the finals of the 53rd Maharashtra State Theatre Competition, to be held in Mumbai next month. The final competition will have 10 groups from five districts of Maharashtra — Pune, Nagpur, Ratnagiri, Aurangabad and Mumbai.
Ashutosh Nerlekar, director of the latest adaptation says, “Though we wanted to present a newer version of the play, given its iconic status, we didn’t want to change its original sensibilities. However, in order to strike a chord with today’s audience, we introduced several new elements.” While the traditional-looking set is replaced by one with bright colours and modern lighting, beat-heavy music has taken over classical music. “In the earlier version, the aunt wears a sari but we have shown her in a gown. But nothing looks out of place. For instance, the reason Bandya wears a gown is because in his theatre group, he portrays the role of Hamlet’s mother, and a gown is the only costume he carries for his play rehearsals,” says Nerlekar.
Vishwas Pangarkar, who plays the lead character