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A few laughs, anyone?

It’s been over two decades since the first Bottoms Up made its debut, leaving its audience in splits. Directed and written by Bharat Dabholkar, the play was staged in the city on Sunday evening in an all-new avatar. With new roasts, new jokes and fresh jibes at the current state of affairs, the two-hour production had quite a few aces up its sleeve, and a few duds too. Nevertheless, with a stellar cast and some pretty risqué humour, the New Bottoms Up was a great way to spend an evening.

A still from the play. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

To call it a play would be wrong; what Dabholkar’s offering in a new avatar really is, is a series of disjointed skits — a musical revue, humour being the only common thread holding them together.

Its content is topical, and revolves around issues that the audience can relate to; issues that hold no geographic boundaries. New Bottoms Up mocks the establishment and takes pot shots at public figures in various industries, sending a ripple of laughter through the auditorium.

After a hilarious opening act by Dabholkar, the cast settles in to roast a popular television news anchor and a handful of politicians across parties, before moving on to mock the traffic, fictitious walking licences for the common man, declining population growth, condom companies, low-cost airlines and lax security arrangements. All of these are peppered with double-entendre dialogues and risqué humour — although none of it uses any abusive language.

The time between skits is generously dotted with song-and-dance routines and stand-up comedy segments by Dabholkar, who even goes on to show us clips of videos and ads he found hilarious. However, while the first half was a breeze and provided quite a few laughs, the second failed to live up to the expectations that the first act set. Some of the jokes seemed just too contrived and run-of-the-mill.

In the cast, Ananth steals the show, as he dons various roles, including that of a Malayali settled in West Asia, and a transgender air hostess with a budget airline.

His small frame (when compared to Dabholkar’s beefed-up six-foot frame) is belied by his booming voice, as he transitions between each of his roles with ease. He was well supported by Kavita Kapoor, Bharat, Rupali Suri, Sneha Chavan, Amit Roy and Bhavna Pani among others.

While the fillers and skits that connect the various segments don’t always hit the mark, the audience is treated to some dazzling songs and dances, the highlight being the medley between Sneha Chavan’s Bharatanatyam and the Western moves of the boys from Hormuzd Khambata’s dance troupe to ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ and ‘Shine On’.

The Hindu was the media partner for the event.

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