Lucknow pays theatrical tribute to actor late Nirmal PandeyNirmal Pandey

Virendra Singh Rawat

The auditorium of Sangeet Natak Academy in Lucknow reverberated with wholesome laughter at the mirthful antics of characters in the comic act ‘Panchhi jaa, Panchhi aa’.

The fast paced drama evoked profound hilarity among the mixed audience, which laughed and giggled anticipating the unfolding comic situations in the 110-minute act.

The play, directed by theatre veteran Sangam Bahuguna under his banner Manchkriti Samiti, was an ensemble to pay tributes to versatile actor late Nirmal Pandey on his birth anniversary on Thursday (Aug 10).

The comic act, adapted in Hindi by Surendra Gulati, celebrated the virtuous artistic journey of Nirmal Pandey, who attained stardom for his ace portrayal of Vikram Mallah in Oscar winning filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor’s Hindi film Bandit Queen (1994).

Pandey, who passed away on Feb 18, 2010 following a cardiac arrest, was born in Nainital (now in Uttarakhand) on Aug 10, 1962. He graduated from the National School of Drama (NSD) before making an indelible mark for himself in Bollywood, theatre and television.

‘Panchhi jaa, Panchhi aa’ narrated the story of a casanova-at-heart, Samir (played by Ambrish Bobby), who courts three women viz. Goldie (Bhavya Dwivedi), Vartika (Minni Dixit) and Sohini (Nisha Tiwari).

The women work as airhostesses with three different airlines and have never met each other even as Samir is individually yet simultaneously engaged to each one of them!

While, Samir successfully manages to serenade the trio by keeping track of the women’s flying schedule, things turn topsy-turvy when his childhood friend Jagdeep (Vikas Srivastava) comes from Raipur to share his flat.

The act becomes hilarious when the airhostesses arrive to stay with Samir during their sudden stopover one day. The house cook Nawab (Sanjay Degloorkar) added spice to the flawless act with his chaste Urdu dialogues and antics.

Interestingly, unlike most recent plays in Lucknow, which are staged on ‘first come-first served’ basis without tickets, the act turnout to be a sellout despite an entry ticket of Rs 100 apiece.

Meanwhile, Bahuguna recalled his long association with Nirmal Pandey and his Lucknow connection.

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Nirmal Pandey’s wife Archana Pandey, who is an artist and educationist, said the late actor was down to earth and a simpleton. “He possessed childlike innocence and was a humble human being, who always cared for others. The play is a tribute to cherish his memories,” she averred.

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