Separated in crunched space

It’s a situation quite likely to take place in any city with a space crunch—a couple on the verge of a divorce, forced to continue sharing an apartment, till legal matters are sorted out. Rakesh Bedi has written and directed a play, Jab We Separated, turning the acrimony between the warring couple into a comedy—not as savage as, say, the 1989 movie The War Of The Roses, but with a lot of bickering and accusing.

Priya (Shweta Tiwari) and Sanjay (Rahul Bhuchar) are breaking up after twenty years of marriage, but have to spend six months together on the order of the court, before their divorce is finalised. Their only daughter Megha is away at boarding school and a tug-of-war is being fought over her custody.

Rakesh Bedi

The two have divided the flat into two, and stay mostly on their own side, except when they are fighting. Priya is angry at Sanjay’s constant infidelities, and the fact that his work as a pilot, left her raising Megha on her own, whom now Sanjay is trying to entice over to his side with his financial clout. He claims to be fed up of Priya’s constant nagging.  As it often happens in divorce cases, Priya, a school teacher, does not have the means for good legal defence to face Sanjay in court, while he has hired the best lawyers money can buy.

Bedi examines not just the current state of their fraying relationship, when they have nothing nice to say to each other, but goes into flashbacks of the development of their love story and early days of marriage. This not just dilutes the bitter wit of the sparring couple, but also extends its running time. He himself plays a pesky, creepy neighbour, Monty Mitha, who keeps barging in uninvited, though he turns out to have a sad back story.

Having seen an early show, there was the problem, not just of length, but also rough edges to the performances of the two lead actors, which, hopefully will be sandpapered over a few shows.  What does work well, is the concept—what happens if the happily-ever-after promised after marriage does not materialise? Bedi leaves the ending for the audience to decide—should the couple go ahead with the divorce or reconcile for the sake of their daughter. The decision might just surprise the romantics in the auditorium.

Rating: 2.5 stars
Jab We Separated
Written and Directed by Rakesh Bedi
Cast: Shweta Tiwari, Rahul Bhuchar, Rakesh Bedi and others

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Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.