Monday, January 22, 2018

Vasant Panchami 2018

Basking in the glory of a successful Annual Function
Time to celebrate – to rejoice in the success of the Annual Function (ref post of January 20) and to reap the rewards of two months of hard work. It was a bounteous harvest. What could be more timely, today being the harvest festival that marks the onset of spring?
We did not celebrate Vasant Panchami though. From early morning, compliments came pouring in from across the Garden – from Vijay Bhai and Swapna Roy Choudhury to special invitees and guests, each expounding on how much they enjoyed the three-hour extravaganza.
If someone found “Kadak Singh Jailor” hilarious, another rated the Raj Kapoor act “lively and spontaneous” while a third
Lost and Found: Bijoy Gupta
collects his belongings from the show
could not get over the name “Prem Pyari Poonawali of Bakwaas TV” and a fourth still giggling over the failed romance of a 90-year-old… But the common thread that ran through all the accolades was that never before has “such an
Arun Patil (in red) pulled up for
mistiming his cue
entertaining programme been held in Lokhandwala”.
Even the Garden watchman could not help exulting: “If only some 200 extra chairs could be provided, many people would not have returned from the gate disappointed. The place was packed to capacity. There was no room for anybody to even stand!”
We too had our share of self-congratulatory back slapping and the odd occasion of pulling up someone for a slip-up (the audience did not notice). For instance, Arun Patil was upbraided for barging on to the stage before his cue. But that’s all part of the fun and games as Kiran Prakash praised every performer by turn and underlined the fact that it was after all, a group show in which “everyone’s contribution was equally important” towards making it a success.
Since all the artistes had to perforce be back-stage through the duration of the programme, it was decided to have a special video screening of the show for their benefit. Shekhawat offered to play host as he has a big screen TV at home. The date and time will be fixed once the video recording reaches us.

Bihari Milwani:
This was supposed to be the Annual Function of 2017. After two months we can have another Annual Function for 2018. We should start preparations right now so that the momentum is maintained and we can do still better by breaking our own record.

Lt Col Angad Singh (retd):
The performance level of all participants can well be imagined by the mere fact that there was no room for the audience to even stand. All members of the Club deserve to be congratulated for their extraordinary performance. All discharged their responsibilities cheerfully. They all deserved that extra laugh this morning.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

DAY 2448

Pic of the Week
A very, very, very nice Annual Day function. Everybody was happy and laughing. The audience enjoyed a lot. We have never seen this kind of programme in Lokhandwala. It was like a very-very big show and for free to the public. All members put in their best in making the function a great-great success that we will remember our whole life. 'Kadak Singh Jailor' looked a real jailor. Everyone looked awesome. Please print some photos and give to members if they want. Three cheers to Big Laaf! --Dilip Babani

Saturday, January 20, 2018


The Stage: Act in progress
It was an occasion to let down your hair and have a blast – to legitimately celebrate madness, to showcase our talent (or the lack of it) and to bond with friends, old and new. Sitaram Hivarkar was there, as also Purushottam Sharma, besides of course, renowned professionals like bulbul tarang exponent Rashid Khan and Bollywood choreographer Nadira Khan and well-wishers like Muhammed Farooq Khan, Mala De and Harish Wadhwa.
It was also an occasion for Karun Sharma to step into the ‘japani’ shoes of Raj Kapoor, if only
Kiran Prakash
for a brief while and pull off a scintillating act as the adorable tramp. Likewise, Yusuf Rassiwala did a Balraj Sahni with the Zohra Jabeen number, sending the audience into raptures.
Karun Sharma as the 'tramp'
And the ladies simply had a ball, singing and dancing – be it Banoo Apa or Rafaaqat, Pushpa Gupta or Rakhi Bansi.
Nahid Khan, Kajal Babani, Geeta Latte, Bhaswati Bose and Rukhsana Khan also deserve special mention for playing their part on stage with rare conviction and elan.
Yusuf Rassiwala during the Zohra Jabeen act
Bringing them all together was the master of ceremonies, Kiran Prakash who compered the show for the evening.
It was also a lifetime opportunity for Shekhawat to throw his weight around as Kadak Singh, the jail warden (in khaki uniform top-to-toe) while Bijoy Gupta and his brothers
Shekhawat as jail warden, with his prisoners
in ‘crime’ – Kiran Prakash, Dilip Babani, Angad Singh and Nasir Putani Shah had to settle for the prisoner's garb.
Banjo exponent Rashid Khan 
The real show-stealer though was 84-year-old Angad Singh – all credit to Gupta for casting, conceiving, scripting and directing the three-part play.
A word of thanks to Kajal Babani for coordinating back-stage activities, Mumtaz Jahan for front-stage management and crowd control, Reena the Beautician for providing make-up
Banoo Apa
Pushpa Gupta
to the artistes and Arun Patil for taking care of the distribution of dinner boxes, together with Fahmida Khan and Zarina Khan. Last, but not the least, our gratitude also rests with Hemant Nair of Celebration Club and Mumbai Police for their support and encouragement in making the event a success.
Perhaps the best compliment was to come from Muhammed Farooq Khan who sent us this note late night: “It is 10:45pm, well past my sleeping time. I have just returned from the Annual Day function of Big Laaf. I cannot describe what a time I had. It will not be proper for me to single out an item or artiste for praise. Every act and every artiste was a precious gem in a navlakha haar, complementing and enhancing the beauty of one another. The effect was fantabulous.
Skit with Banoo Apa, Kajal and Bhaswati
Yusuf R felicitates Nadira and Rashid Khan
Thank you Big Laaf for making my day. Allow me to also thank the organisers, guest artiste Ustad Rashid Khan Saheb, choreographer Nadira and the make-up artiste (whose name unfortunately, I do not know) for doing a wonderful job. I am anxiously awaiting the next episode in 2019. Jio BIG LAFF!”
Kiran Prakash:
The Annual Function was a HUGE success. I thank everyone for the excellent performance on stage and hard work in co-ordinating the entire event this evening. I have no words to express my feelings. God bless you all.

Lt Col Angad Singh (retd):
It was a well organised function. Preparations have been going on for a long time. Everyone put his best foot forward. And the result was exuberant.

Devraj Das:
Kiran Sir, Karun Sir, Yusuf Uncle, Angad Uncle, Dilip Sir, Shekhawat Uncle, Bose Uncle, Harish Uncle... as well as Banoo Apa, Bhashwati Ma'm, Geeta-di, Pushpa Ma'm, Kajal Ma'm and our dearest choreographer, Nadira-ji -- Thank you all for the wonderful performances. I experienced the bestest Annual Function of my life. Rashid Sir, I felt blessed to hear you live. Big Laaf Club, zindabaad!!!

Geeta Latte:
Meine life mein kabhi nahi socha tha ki main gaana gaaungi aur dance karungi, par maine kiya aur bahut achha laga. In sab chizon ka shrei jata hai to my dear Bhaswati Bose!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Rest Day

Members gather for a pep talk on tomorrow's function
The analogy of a family wedding went down well this morning when we were given a pep talk for the Annual Function tomorrow. “We ought to be prepared for all eventualities and as members of one big family, we must help one another in making the event a big success,” said Kiran Prakash.
“There are bound to be problems during the staging of the show,” reminded Yusuf Rassiwala, fresh from a trip to Surat. “But that does not mean we throw up our hands or sit quietly in a corner sulking. Simply carry on with your duties as though nothing has happened. Ultimately it is the reputation of our Club at stake.”
As planned earlier, the eve of the show had been earmarked as rest day. For more than a month rehearsals have been going on at a frenetic pace (more often than not, twice a day), leaving most of us sapped of energy. Many like Banoo Apa, Bhaswati Bose and Kajal Babani have been complaining of sore throat while a few are nursing joint pains and muscular cramps.
Yusuf Rassiwala gets us nankhatai from Surat
Others like Kiran Prakash are regularly taking energy supplements due to physical exhaustion.
They all need to rest. Yet, for some strange reason, a small group among them plans to rehearse this evening again to brush up their act. The running joke is that we would end up producing martyrs at this rate – more so, were the function to be postponed, leaving us with more days to practice.
But there is a positive side to this as well. For a group without previous stage experience, the upcoming show promises to be a huge confidence booster. An otherwise quiet and reticent Nasir Putani Shah seems to have suddenly found his voice. Some ladies, known to be equally meek and withdrawn, are now the most talkative in the Club.
The biggest transformation though, is being seen in the play actors who would be appearing with full make-up and costume for the first time. So proud are they of their new get-up that they have invited all their friends and relatives to the show tomorrow. One member made a block booking for nine yesterday. And he is not alone…

Bihari Milwani:
Tomorrow the programme should start with loud shout, “Banke Biharilal Kii Jai!” All the problems will disappear magically.

Lt Col Angad Singh (retd):
A rest day is necessary to recoup energy. We have been working overtime to ensure that all loose ends are properly tied. Three cheers to every participant.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Last Lap

Geeta Latte helps in distributing dinner coupons for January 20
Zarina Khan (c) distributes til-gud laddu, a  Makar Sankranti delicacy
After days and weeks of planning and preparation for the Annual Function, we have now entered the last lap before actually mounting the stage on January 20. The final rehearsals are slated for the afternoon today. Tomorrow is rest day. And on the day-after, we should enjoy the fruits of our labour.
The ritual of distributing dinner coupons to all participants was undertaken today. According to Shekhawat's estimate, there would be around 25 guests of members for whom dinner boxes will also have to be provided. That apart, we would need to take care of a few complimentaries (non-members helping us in putting up the show) which would take the total up to nearly 75 dinner boxes.
Meanwhile, Kiran Prakash held a briefing this morning on the responsibilities of every member – both front-stage and back-stage (ref yesterday’s post). As the Master of Ceremonies (MC), he detailed the flow of activity once the curtains go up on January 20 and has accordingly allotted work to each person – the idea being to involve everyone in the Club.
Those front-stage and not performing have similarly been briefed on crowd control – situations where personal intervention would be necessary, blocking off sections of the audience and most importantly, ensuring that those working back-stage and performing are not disturbed by inquisitive outsiders. It was decided to post a gatekeeper, if necessary to prevent such elements from snooping around, particularly near the greenrooms. Duties have also been assigned for cleaning up after the show. No matter how hard we try to keep the area clean, littering is bound to happen. Besides, the props and costumes would have to be collected and accounted for. Our responsibilities would end only after the stage is dismantled and we are able to vacate the place in the same condition as we get it.

Lt Col Angad Singh (retd):
The final touches were necessary to put everyone on the same page. This, having been completed, has helped clear the air of all doubts.