Mumbai: A packed house waited with bated breath at the Y.B. Chavan Auditorium to watch an eccentric trio perform antics on the stage and entertain them. Most of them had watched the trio on celluloid and laughed till tears rolled down their eyes. This time, they watched expectantly to see how they performed on stage. And they were not disappointed at all.
Each member of the audience laughed and how as the stellar cast of NGO Salaam Bombay Foundation’s Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi lit the stage on fire with their riveting performances at the première night of the play. Six decades after the movie Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi starring the maverick Ganguly brothers Kishore, Ashok and Anoop tickled the funny bone of cinema goers; Salaam Bombay Foundation presented it in a new avatar – as a stage production and a modern-day version of the sprightly film. The play — a musical edition of the film – recreated its original magic by weaving together the best of art while adding a contemporary twist for new age viewers.
The guest of honor for the occasion was renowned Bollywood actor Vidya Balan.
Like the film, the spotlight of the play is the three brothers and their frolics that have retained the popularity of the film even today.Yet, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi’s stage debut goes beyond simply bringing back the runaway hit. Salaam Bombay Foundation’s production features the talent of the young graduate students of its Repertory Theatre. These are children who have studied at the Salaam Bombay Academy of Arts – the flagship wing of the organisation that works with children from Mumbai’s deprived slums.
On Friday, each member of the cast dominated the stage with their hard-hitting performance, wit and humour leaving the audiences in splits. What made it all the exhilarating was the fact that the situations and the ensuing encounters were fantastically handled by the actors. All the children are students of municipal schools and residents of the city’s slums.
The Salaam Bombay Academy of Performing Arts works with municipal schools, identifies children who display a unique talent and then presents them with an opportunity to develop it. The objective is to address the lack of vocational skills among these children by providing them with world-class training in dance, music and theatre. The children who were part of the play are now graduates of the Academy but continue to be associated with Salaam Bombay Foundation in professional theatre opportunities.
Another milestone of Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi is that it has some of the biggest names from Bollywood associated with it. While popular singers and youth icons Shaan and Neeti Mohan have lent their voices to its joyful numbers, the play is directed by National School of Drama alumn Chittranjan Tripathi, scripted by National Award winner Ashok Mishra with music score by Sangeet Natak Akademi award winner Amod Bhatt.
Talking about the gala success of the premiere night, Rajashree Kadam, VP, Operations, Salaam Bombay Foundation said, “We and our children are feeling on top of the world because Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, the Salaam Bombay Foundation way, went beyond our expectations. The audiences can’t stop raving about the performances and the play has left them spellbound. This unique fundraising initiative will give the youngsters from our Academy the chance to showcase their talent and stage skills under the guidance of stalwarts from theatre as well as cinema.”
Meanwhile, the splendid special effects used in the musical are already winning acclaim thanks to their lavish scale and contemporary reflection. Explains Rajashree, “The idea was to present the golden classic on stage through a combination of audio and video visuals and stage act – a lot of which has perhaps not been explored effectively in Indian theatre yet. Looking at the audiences’ reaction, I think we have been very successful in our endeavour.”
The grand premier night was attended by the crème-de-la-crème of theatre, cinema, music and art who cheered for the artistes as they rocked the stage. If you too want to laugh your guts out and be treated to some ace performances, don’t forget to catch the next shows of Salaam Bombay Foundation’s Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi.