The Siddhus of Upper Juhu—A whimsical play of life in a city

By Poornima Koonath

Life can be an amazing journey; it can be a whimsical one too. COVID times have given us a new perspective to living life and priorities have shifted in a big way. The idiosyncrasies seem appropriate and acceptable. And thinking of life and how it throws curve balls at us when one is least expecting takes me back to the last play I watched before the entertainment industry came to a grinding halt due to the pandemic, ‘The Siddhus of Upper Juhu’. I continue to savour the experience I had and am looking forward to when normalcy will become the norm and theatres across the globe will spring back to life.

‘The Siddhus of Upper Juhu’ is a simple story about a simple couple—Balvinder Siddhu and his wife Behroze. The relationship between Bubbles, as Balvinder is fondly called and his Parsi wife are reminiscent of any average middle-class couple. Like most urban Indians, they have invested all their earnings into purchasing the house of their dreams. But unfortunately, the house was anything but what they had expected. The play opens with a very restless and irritated Bubbles, who is being kept awake by the noises from the surrounding apartments. The paper-thin walls, the messy plumbing and the ‘annoying’ neighbours add to his frustration. Even the street dogs bear the brunt of his anger. He seems to be in constant turmoil with everything around him and nothing his wife tries calms him down. And unfortunately for him the spate of depressing events takes an upward trajectory with his home getting burglarised (even his priced liquor being stolen) and him losing his job. The concept of his wife working while he is jobless makes matters even worse. He almost has a nervous break-down.

While the plot may be depressing and may hit close to home for many who have lived in big cosmopolitan cities, the play itself evokes a riot of laughter. The satire is realistic and the chemistry between the two actors in the main roles is magnetic. The director of the play, Rahul da Cunhaa, has capably drawn upon the talents and skills of his experienced actors. The antics of Bubbles have been very well captured by the supremely talented Rajit Kumar. Shernaz Patel is flawless as his patient indulgent wife. They are supported by Shishir Sharma, Meera Khurana and Kajli Sharma. The show was brought to Sydney by Sai Creative Arts Network (SCREAN) and Manju Mittal.

It was however disheartening to see Sydney’s lukewarm response to this play. After the show, Manju spoke with me about the herculean task she faced to get people interested in the play. While people are happy to pay hundreds of dollars and then queue up just to get their visage into a crowded photo with a Bollywood celebrity, quality plays like ‘Siddhus of Upper Juhu’ are bereft of praiseworthy audience. A disillusioned Manju said she may decide to call it quits. It will be very unfortunate if she does as a theatre loving audience like me will miss out. I sincerely hope post COVID, more such plays will be staged in Sydney for deserving audiences who love art and all art forms.

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