Theatretime's Blog

Festival of hindi comedies by Ramesh Mehta

Three Arts Club and Katyayani celebrated the work of social satirist Ramesh Mehta by holding a festival of three of his most popular Hindi plays—Paisa Bolta Hai! Uljhan & Under Secretary on September 28, 29 & 30th,  2012, at Shri Ram Centre, Mandi House,  directed by Sohaila Kapur. The Festival was inaugurated by the Director of the National School of Drama, Ms. Anuradha Kapur and Bafta Award winning and Oscar nominated film director, Shekhar Kapur. Archival  photographs of Ramesh Mehta’s productions in the 50s, with Presidents and Prime Ministers attending,  jostled with pictures of current productions of the same plays, in a well arranged photographic display in the foyer.



All in the family!  Inauguration of exhibition and the festival by Chief Guest, Anuradha Kapur, Director, National School of  Drama and Guest of Honour, Film Maker Shekhar Kapur (who are cousins), seen with director Sohaila Kapur  and Three Arts Club secretary, Anuradha Dhar (white sari).

The Master:

Ramesh Mehta was an institution in himself. He specialized in social satires and some of his plays like Under Secretary, Dhai Akhar Prem Ka, Dhong, Hamara Gaon, Faisla etc. have become milestones of  modern Hindi theatre.. His Hamara Gaon was commissioned by the then Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru, as a play about emerging new India. His audience included luminaries like Prime ministers Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Chaudhury Charan Singh, Presidents Dr. Rajendra  Prasad and Dr. Zakir Husain,  Actors Prithviraj Kapoor, Motilal, Shobhana Samarth, Sunder and Sajjan. Sajjan infact, worked with Mehta in theatre before joining films. Mehta’s plays were the first to give a platform to women on the Delhi stage.

He was awarded the Chamanlal Memorial Award for lifetime achievement, the Sahitya Kala Parishad Delhi Award, Delhi Natya Sangh Award, Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, as well as the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2007.  The King of Hindi Sitcoms passed away in May this year and this is our tribute to him. The plays were all written in the 50s and 60s and were smash hits of their time.



Paisa Bolta Hai talks about the primacy of money in our lives. A maltreated menial finds his life transformed after a financial windfall. Life in the house goes topsy turvy after the incident. Each member has an axe to grind and wants the money. Who ultimately benefits? The play celebrated its diamond jubilee when it ran initially and is still one of Mehta’s most popular satires.

Cast:  Govind  Bajpai, Nupur Jain, Shalini Singh, Abhimanyu, Abhinav Bakshi, Seema Kaul, B.L. Tandon, Prakash Kumar, Arun Prakash , Anuradha AVyas,  and Anoop Gupta.




Uljhan is a youthful, romantic comedy about an astute Bluffmaster who bluffs his way through life. He has lied to his landlady about his marital status so that he can retain his tenant status. An attractive young lady walks into his home and heart, changing his equation with his landlady and feudal father, forever. A fluffy comedy, that focuses on the cosmopolitan make up of Delhi, with different accents in free flow.

Cast: Neeraj Yadav, Nidhikant Pandey, Jyotsna Sharma, Vani Vyas, Arun Prakash, Abhinav Bakshi, Pallav Chander, Nand Chopra and Gyanesh Sinha.




Under Secretary focuses on middle class hypocrisy, Mehta’s favourite theme. It lampoons middle class aspirations. A woman gets a letter from her friend informing her that she and her husband would be visiting her for a day. Unfortunately for our heroine, the friend’s husband is a director in a government establishment and her own husband a mere assistant. Racking her brains, she hits upon a fiendish plot of replacing her home and husband for a few hours, to impress her friend. The play is a laugh riot and broke  all records of popularity when it was first produced. It has been translated into many Indian languages including Tamil, Malayalam, Sindhi, Bengali and Gujarati.

Cast: Ashok Dhawan, Roopak Kathpalia, Shruti Arora,  Vivek Anand, Pranav Kharbanda, Gyanesh Sinha, Sonali Sharma, Lotty Alaric.


Uljhan and Paisa Bolta Hai will be repeated on Nov 17 & 18 respectively, at 7 p.m., at Epicentre, Gurgaon.






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