Point of View - Priti Bakalkar reviews 'My Goad Pune'

My Goad Pune

Is it a spelling mistake? Oh no, I got it, this is a Marathi play, it is got to be vernacular pronunciation of “God”… these were my thoughts when I read the title My Goad Pune.. But when I saw the play, I realised the aptness of title.

This interesting journey of the protagonist from “My GOD! Pune!!” to “My GOAD Pune..” (my sweet Pune; “goad” being Marathi translation of the word “Sweet”) is so very well crafted by Tejpal Wagh and Chinmay Kulkarni who have written and directed this play and have also acted in the play! And believe me they wear all these hats so effortlessly. No wonder, Chinmay Kulkarni won the “Best Actor” award and of course the play won the “Best Play” award at Thespo 12.

The play starts with starry eyed Vaibhav (Tejpal Wagh) leaving his village in remote Maharashtra to come to Pune in search of a better future. However, he is in for rude shocks from the very moment he steps in Pune. He is told that if he wants settle in Pune he needs to pass an entrance exam Pune Entrance Exam a.k.a. PEE. The fees for the exams are beyond his budget. The friend, upon whom Vaibhav had pinned his hope for all the help during his stay in Pune, refuses to acknowledge him and advises him to return to his village. Then, in an encounter with a corrupt Police Officer (Chinmay Kulkarni) he is stripped off of almost all his money. Finally when dejected Vaibhav is ready to return back to his village, Limaye (Prasad Limaye) of Limaye Coaching Classes meets him. These classes prepare people for the PEE. Limaye assures him of a glorious future as a Punekar (resident of Pune). Vaibhav falls for the dream and Limaye takes Vaibhav under his wings. Thus begins Vaibhav’s journey towards one goal – to pass PEE and wear the Punekar “pagadi” (hat) on his head. Then what happens is a complete laugh riot.

The play is a kind of a comment on current socio-political scenario. With the recession and financial crisis all over the world the conflict between the locals and non-locals has become more pronounced than ever in the history. The locals see the non-locals as a threat to their cultural-economic balance. The non-locals are unable to understand the resistance from locals and that’s how sparks start flying. It is a universal phenomenon and hence in spite of the play being in Marathi even the non-Marathi audience enjoyed the play. You could remove the reference of Pune and apply it to any other city and the story would be still the same. It is the same old story for all of us and that’s why we love the play. We find ourselves either in Vaibhav or in Limaye or in many of those characters whom we meet in our day to day life. Some time or other we all have been in shoes of at least one of these characters and so it becomes our own story.

The trio of Tejpal, Prasad and Chinmay have worked wonders with this simple story. They are absolutely adorable. Tejpal and Chinmay as writers have caught the essence of a typical Punekar so well that even a non-Punekar would now know what to expect when they visit Pune next time. Tejpal was simply fantastic as Vaibhav. He had perfect body language of a small town simpleton. His style of talking, his attitude and then his scene by scene transformation was a delight to watch. Prasad as cunning, calculating Punekar was also a treat to watch. His attitude towards Vaibhav, his frustration of making imbecile Vaibhav fit to adapt to the so called “Pune Culture” was very well portrayed. And Chinmay in hi
s multiple characters, be it the corrupt Police constable or old Punekar or all in one restaurant owner or Vaibhav’s friend, was just superb. Each character complemented the other characters performance. I would give a lot of credit to the writers for detailing of the characters. Had they not done that detailing the performance would not have been so great.

On technical side there is not much to say. It was a very simple set and not many light effects etc, but there was quite good use of sound (mainly to convey the culture and glorious history of the city). One thing that bothered me a bit was when the scene changes were happening; during the blackouts the people who did the changes were wearing white cloths. I believe they were the artists who were in their costumes for the last scene but it was little irritating for me. Anyhow, it did not affect the performance so I guess I cannot complain.

I loved the performance and I believe that they truly deserved the award for “Best Play”. How I wish the entire team was present to accept the award; however they were performing for some other competition in another city on the awards night so the team missed the applause they received when the play was declared to be the winner. But I am sure they received the same applause in that another city too!