It was perhaps the most hyped among the plays of Writers Bloc 3. A story about ‘magical’ semen by the legendary Siddharth Kumar (I had not seen The Interview but was already in awe of the man after watching his quasi stand-up act at Thespo) had my intrigue and expectation levels shooting through the roof. From the get-go, the play was extremely engaging. Brijesh, an average Joe trying to make it into Bollywood is unique in the sense that his semen produces only male offspring. With the help of his partner Rhea, who works at a fertility clinic, Brijesh earns a sizable side income by selling his semen illegally. The two go on about their business peacefully, till such time Brijsh meets Anjali. Having had multiple surgeries and being diagnosed as infertile, Anjali believes that Brijesh’s magical semen is the only thing that can get pregnant. This does not sit well with Rhea (a single mother) who needs the illegal money to support her daughter. Thus begins a tug of war for Brijesh and the consequences it has on all three lives forms the rest of the play.
While the central characters were all more or less stereotypical – struggling actor, struggling single mother, struggling couple desperate for a baby, sexy but slightly bimbette-ish single woman, guru/conman – the play was by no means run-of-the-mill. The character arcs of each of the leads was very well defined and through the course of the play, you endend up falling in love with them, pitying them, rebuking them, getting mad at them and finally forgiving them. While Brijesh morphed into a mean, scary, slimeball-esque person from the sweet innocuous pushover that he was, Rhea went from being slick-calling-the shots-in-control woman to a victim of circumstances. Lovely performances by both actors. And speaking of performances, Sumeet Vyas was a riot as the cigar-puffing, seemingly profound, new age conman/guruji. The meeting between Brijesh and Guruji was my favorite part in the play. One could really appreciate the writing in this piece – witty, intelligent and in-your-face – and the actors did full justice to it. Shruti Vyas as the guruji’s sidekick Annie was just adorable and Tahira Nath as the brash but wily housewife really stood out.
It was interesting to see the play touch upon various social issues such as the preference for male offspring, beating the system with bribery, empowering quack god-men, custody battles or wife-beating without getting preachy. The ending was as expected, after all there is only so long that you can go on without getting caught when so many people are involved. But the journey was fun, quirky and entertaining. The set was beautiful, the lights and music complementing it. I especially loved the opening of the play - it had almost the entire cast on stage and was a visual treat - very aesthetically done.
Spunk is a play about ordinary characters and how they behave under the influence of extraordinary semen, and full marks to the director for successfully taking a slice of life scenario to a whole new level. In all, an evening well spent.