“Tere Saath Chalte Chalte” Shines on San Diego Stage
Hamid Daudani & Group has been putting on professional-quality stage productions in the San Diego area for 20 years now, yet somehow they always manage to find new and interesting ways to keep each performance fresh. This year’s play, “Tere Saath Chalte Chalte,” drew rave reviews from the audience while continuing the group’s tradition of innovation and excellence.
A full house was once again in attendance for the group’s 18 th production at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts on April 9. Their continued patronage is a tribute to the reputation this group has earned in the community in the years since it staged its first play, “Prem Nagar Ka Mela,” as far back as 1991.
This year’s play was different than those produced before, as it mixed comedy, drama and dances in an epic storyline that spanned the course of more than 40 years. The story of “Tere Saath Chalte Chalte” begins in 1967 with a young and sarcastic Sameer (Suneel Battula) first meeting the proud and intelligent Simi (Anushka Sirdeshpande). The plot then followed the journey of their unique friendship to the present day. The audience witnesses their maturation over more than five decades, as the characters experience their friends’ marriages, divorces and birth of children.
Hamid Daudani’s script broke from the cookie-cutter mold of the typical Bollywood romance. While the hero and heroine develop a great fondness for each other as the play progresses, the audience is left with a cliffhanger ending. They must decide for themselves whether they believe the long-intertwined couple will ultimately choose to reunite, or if they will be left with only their warm memories of their time spent with each other.
“This year I decided to move away from a traditional plot of conflict, climax and resolution with a happy ending, to a very contemporary saga depicting a lifetime journey of a couple,” said Daudani. “The story I told is experienced by one generation as a true-to-life tale, while it is just a good story for the new generation. That shows how the values and traditions have changed.”
Telling a story that takes place over an entire lifetime is no simple undertaking. Three separate couples were used to play Sameer and Simi in their different stages of life. Priyank and Nishigandha Patil played the adult pair and Hamid Daudani and Mansi Acharya played the old couple. Each was costumed and made-up to reflect the fashions of the era.
Beautiful dances, choreographed by Bollywood Tranz and the Arohee group, as well as a singing performance by Sarah Ansari, broke up the scenes and helped mark the passing of time. Meanwhile, the production team transformed the stage at breakneck pace time and again, from a restaurant to a book reading to a New York apartment, transporting the audience from one locale to the next.
All this effort resulted in the viewer being heavily invested in the main characters’ lives. When the final curtain ultimately dropped, they felt that they had experienced a lifetime’s worth of drama and joy. It is a credit to the entire cast and crew that they were able to breathe such great life to this production in just two hours.
Nipul Shah, the technical director again prevailed in bringing beautiful sets on the stage. Suman Murari was responsible to coordinate music and creating beautiful movie like screen titles. Zainab Ansari and Sajida Ansari were responsible for the make-up; a difficult task for such a play. Laila Daudani and Nadira Javaid handled the marketing. Yamini Patel and Sameera Khan were stage managers. Anita Bhakta presented a beautiful 20-page program brochure. Mamta Malhotra was responsible for costumes and Vipul Doshi handled lights.
“We knew this production was a major departure from what we had put on in the past and we weren’t entirely sure how the audience would respond,” said Daudani. “However, their reaction in the lobby after the show confirmed that they loved the presentation and are looking forward to another show next year.”