As an actor, Shilpa Shukla has created a niche for herself with nuanced performances on stage and screen. More recently, she circles back to her roots with Zee Theatre’s ‘The Big Fat City’ airing on Tatasky Theatre this month. After playing a host of intense characters throughout her career, she now brings to the spotlight a glamourous but desperate has-been actress based in Mumbai. Written and directed by theatre veteran Mahesh Dattani, the teleplay is a dark comedy that deftly conveys the shadowed realities of upper-class Mumbai.
The teleplay follows an eventful night at Niharika and Murli’s new apartment where a dinner party is underway. Their guest’s light-hearted banter soon turns tense when a surprise visitor stirs things up, threatening a fatal climax. ‘The Big Fat City’ keeps you on tenterhooks wondering which of the guests will survive the night. Shukla plays the key character of Lolita Jagdal, the couple’s neighbour and friend, who charmingly lies her way into a complicated web of mishaps.
On playing Lolita in ‘The Big Fat City’, Shilpa Shukla says, “My character in ‘The Big Fat City’ took me on a delightful rollercoaster and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s one of the things I love about theatre and the stories it tells – it always presents the unexpected. The narrative is a fitting portrayal of the beautiful chaos that is Mumbai.”
The teleplay forms a part of director and playwright Mahesh Dattani’s impressive roster in theatre. “It’s a city we all love to love. If it’s the shandaar city of dreams, it’s also the naala nagri of nightmares. As a newcomer to India’s big fat city, I too succumbed to the charm of its ugly beauty. I wove in three stories into my play. A recently laid-off corporate executive and his ambitious wife; an out of work television star “struggling” in a different way; a runaway girl from Haryana who is probably the wiliest of them all. Each one of these stories is about outsiders to the city and yet they know no other place they would like to call home. This dark comedy is a celebration of the lives that we lead in this urban jungle inhabited by some of the wildest, strangest creatures!” Dattani says.
‘The Big Fat City’ is available on Tatasky Theatre this June and also stars Bhavna Pani, Mansi Multani, Nissar Khan, Sid Makkar, Anuj Guruwara, Deepal Doshi in pivotal roles.