When people turn 60, they start thinking that their life is over, that they have to now devote their time to god and sing bhajans. But Salaam, Noni Appa talks about a woman who decides to live her life post 60, “ says actor Rishi Khurana, who is playing a pivotal role in the play. Salaam... is the theatrical adaptation of Twinkle Khanna’s short story The Legend of Laxmi Prasad.
After its premieres in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi, the play is set to get staged in Pune on November 5. It will travel to three other cities in the next few days. It received tremendous response in Mumbai. “It was a star-studded show. Twinkle Khanna, Akshay Kumar, Dimple Kapadia, Hrithik Roshan, R Balki and several others were present. It was packed and we got an amazing response. And not just in Mumbai, in Delhi too we got packed house,” adds Rishi.
The play also stars Darshan Jariwalla and Jayati Bhatia. “It’s about two sisters - Nono and Binni Appa, who think, ‘we have lived for our parents, husband and children, so now we should live for ourselves.’ It’s a slice of life kind of story,” says Rishi.
He adds that though there are five actors, there are several characters in the play. “I play three characters, Darshan ji plays two characters.”
Adding further about his character, Rishi says, “I play the role of the caretaker of the two sisters who does all their work. He is their driver, cook and cleaner. His only problem is that he believes in godmen and is totally dependent on them. If he is ill, he will consult a godman and not a doctor. So the audience will typically see him wearing different kinds of rings. He can’t break out of this habit and it’s a typical behaviour we see here.”
Rishi says that the other two characters keep appearing here and there.
Isn’t it challenging playing three characters in a single story because an actor spends days, sometimes weeks, to get under the skin of a particular character. “It is very challenging. Firstly, on stage, you do not get retakes. In the play, sometimes I have to appear in two different getups within a minute. So I have to run back and change my costume in half a minute,” he says.
Not many know that Rishi had started his acting career with theatre. “I have been doing theatre since I was in Std 4. In fact, Salaam, Noni Appa is a comeback for me because I am back on stage after eight years. I decided to take a break to pursue a career in television as theatre doesn’t pay. If it paid, I wouldn’t have left it.”
He adds that the reason he decided to come back is because he wanted a detox. “You have to be dumb on television. As an actor, you can’t think smart. But theatre is an actor’s medium,” he points out.
But was he nervous before sharing stage with veteran actors? He replies, “I know Darshan ji and Jayati for many years now. Initially, I was sceptical but as I started rehearsing, there was no nervousness. Lillette ji treats me like a kid.”