Ouch! is an aptly named play. A laugh riot on the surface with a Generation-X centric theme of dreams and aspirations, it makes you go Ouch – for the simple reason that as much as it tickles your ribs with its dark, sarcastic and occasionally slapstick humor, it also pinches you to sit up and take notice of how, in our efforts to build thousands of dreams, we are eroding equally important million others as we strive to achieve fame, money and power at the cost of personal fulfillment.
Ouch! an adaptation of the German play Creeps by Lutz Hubner, is an aptly named play. A laugh riot on the surface with a Generation-X centric theme of dreams and aspirations, it makes you go Ouch – for the simple reason that as much as it tickles your ribs with its dark, sarcastic and occasionally slapstick humor, it also pinches you to sit up and take notice of how, in our efforts to build thousands of dreams, we are eroding equally important million others as we strive to achieve fame, money and power at the cost of personal fulfillment.
Our own reverence of big bucks, swanky cars, gorgeous houses, and page 3 party invitations, coupled with our desire to leave a mark in a fast changing chaotic world has replaced our real pursuit of happiness – to be comfortable in our own skin. The flashy billboards, the mindless soaps, the surreal advertisements and deceptive glamor – they have all left us delusional regarding our values, belief systems and relationships and replaced goal attainment with a materialistic acquisition spree.
Three starry-eyed girls - Jojo, Purnima and Meenu – dream of becoming rich and famous when the opportunity comes knocking at their door. They are jubilant – after all they have been chosen to host a television show (on fashion and lifestyle) called Ouch! Their ecstasy is short-lived when, to their chagrin, they realize that they are yet to clear the final round. Their illusion is shattered as now they have to face-off against and outperform each other in a battle of histrionic performances to bag the coveted job.
Sohaila Kapoor takes the viewers on a comical yet insightful journey about these three girls, who in their quest to find their dream job, rediscover themselves in the unlikeliest of circumstances and place. Initially angry and disappointed with, mortified of and even downright evil to each other, they finally unite to fight the common enemy – the irksome, prodding show director who constantly provokes them, forcing them to lose their cool. However, in essence he peels off different layers of their well-guarded personalities gradually, revealing the real person inside each of them with her own fears and insecurities. A cursory glance wouldn’t probably show much, but a deeper look by an observant viewer will reveal that things are not what they seem.
Purnima is a bit of a prude – one of those girls whose life would crumble if she got one point less than a perfect score on an exam. Out to change the world, she is undoubtedly talented and dedicated, and could easily land up as a journalist, a social worker or environmentalist, should she choose to. The trouble is – she takes life too seriously and suffers nervous breakdowns in tense situations - all this not for her own happiness, but to live up to the expectations set by others. Consequently she has become a volcano ready to explode at the slightest quake of failure.
Meenu, on the other hand, is a typical happy-go-lucky, Bollywood-obsessed Punjabi girl (from the happy town of Phagwara, Punjab – in her words). Turn on the music and look at her gyrate her hips and jerk her limbs. Her heavily Punjabi-flavored English is used only for one thing – to boast about her Phagwara (specifically her “boyphrand” Kuku) and goodness of its residents. As much as she loves her life in Phagwara, she wishes to venture out on her own to experience the glitzy life in a big city.
Jasmine Juneja, aka Jojo, a rich spoilt-brat from Mumbai, oozes oodles of (over)confidence with an attitude that looks as good on her, as her Prada’s and Jimmy Choo’s. Her phony demeanor (including a fake American accent and a well-practiced catwalk), and an impenetrable and domineering exterior may mislead one to think she is self-obsessed freak or a fake wannabe, but she is afflicted with a syndrome that’s ubiquitous amongst the crème de la creme– the problem of plenty. She has got it all – money, looks, promising future and a very generous father – but she’s striving to carve her own niche without her overprotective (and overproviding) father’s helping hand.
The director, aware of the simmering animosity that has developed as a result of the personality clash and conflict of interest, exploits the situation to bring out their genuine emotions, conflicts, apprehensions and captures them in complete earnestness. What ensues is nothing short of an engaging drama with vituperative outbursts, nervous breakdowns, cat-fights, tears, consolations, and eventually, realizations (the director employs colloquial devices to magnify reality further). In the end, they discard their apprehensions and forge a bond of friendship. And as an icing on the cake, they realize that they all WILL be on the show after all – a reality show in which they are the stars!
The play gives us hope – in the end personal contentment triumphs over insignificant ambitions that are a result of unreasonable expectations. Such expectations are set when our own lives are dictated by expectations of those around us, and worse, by the idiot box that constantly beams non-sense into our homes and into our minds. We try to emulate our so-called screen idols blindly without truly ruminating on what we want – little do we realize that we end up becoming what we are not. And what’s better than humor (without the boring, enervating philosophies) to deliver such a message. Of course, the extensive use of multimedia and awesome sound effects only add to the appeal.
Laughter therapy always works to cheer us up AND give us food for thought to chew on… Hats off to Sohaila for the right dose!