Being the father of the ready-to-be-bride ain't nothing mean. The benchmarks are
high, demand outstrips supply for the product, there's peer pressure, the burden
of expectation from the offspring and a sense of being in a rat race where the
winner gets to keep his self-esteem. So what's that coveted prize? Why, the NRI
That's what Air India was about. While ostensibly mocking at the frenzy of finding an NRI bridegroom today, it was inherently all about Indian values. Hence the title was a double-entendre in a very decent manner.
Air India, a state-of-the-art play written by the highly acclaimed Akella and directed by Duggirala Someswara Rao, was presented for three days by Rasaranjani, an organization well known in the city for tastefully giving the best in Telugu theater. And it was a reputation that they thoroughly lived up to.
The venue was totally devoid of ambience, or even a pretense of it. The chairs were the plastic wire kind, costing may be Rs.1.50 per piece as rental. But then the tickets were Rs.10 per person (and though I was let in free, I bought one at the end of the play out of sheer appreciation).
The theme of the play revolved around the craze that a father (V Narayana) has for acquiring an America alludu (son-in-law). The alludu (Francis) turns out to be the acquiring one - of the lakhs of the father-in-law and a pretty wife (played competently by Padma Priya) too in the bargain.
The father's friend (K V Sastry) already has to his credit a well-settled son-in-law in America and gloats on his superiority, never losing an opportunity to take a dig at his friend's struggle to acquire the coveted foreign alludu. The bridegroom has an Indian friend who is aspiring to be placed in America with his (the groom's) influence, and this friend aids and abets him in his fraud deals of marrying and leaving hapless girls.
In this case, the hapless one (Sridevi) arrives on the scene to disgruntle the father who is torn between the love for his daughter and indignation at the injustice of it all. The friend tries to save the situation applying ingenious methods. The girls connive with each other and decide to teach the guy a lesson - and they do. The CID inspector (Goparaju Ramana) helps them and finally chastises the culprits by announcing to all concerned that India is great! (Mera Bharat Mahan!)
The acting by each and every artiste was excellent. The timing was perfect and not a line was forgotten or mispronounced - even the copious tears shed by the first-wife victim seemed real, not ones generated through the use (or chance to use) of glycerin. The 90 odd minutes went without a break and between each scene the applause was loud and clear.
The 100 or so audience were much more motivated and appreciative of the play, and let it show. Hiring small inexpensive halls and presenting talent seems to be a more sensible way than letting the 1500-capacity Ravindra Bharathi let your spirit down by an unappreciative and inattentive audience, who don't clap because the neighbor doesn't!