24 October, 2020

Marzban’s Dark Laughter

A nostalgic compendium chronicles the febrile energy of Parsi natak and its maestros, its encores and last acts.

Marzban’s Dark Laughter
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

In my boyhood in Pune, the West End cinema would, at least once a year, transform itself into a live theatre to host a Parsi natak by a visiting troupe from Bombay. The wooden benches of the five-anna seats closest to the screen would change places with the sofas of the two rupee-four anna balconies. We habitual denizens of the ‘paanch anney’ would be shunted up to the cheap balcony while the rich and important Parsis and others would take their expensive places to the front of the stage.

One excitable friend, a lad from the Mody ‘colony’, taken by the excitement of for once occupying the balcony, couldn’t stop himself from leaning over it, bouncing in his seat and animatedly shouting ‘paanch anney mey goop choop’ at the great and good below. The disturbance was taken in stride as the laughter, catcalls and witticisms that accompanied the theatrical farce were par for those thronged performances.

Meher Marfatia and Sooni Taraporevala’s coffee-table tribute to the past of...

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