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If you don’t find the ongoing political huffing and puffing amusing, visit the New Delhi-based Akshara Theatre. Its founder-owners, the husband-wife duo of Gopal Sharman and Jalabala Vaidya and a group of young actors hope to tickle your funny bone over the next two weekends—before the counting of the votes of the 16th Lok Sabha election and through the formation of the new government. Their weapon of mass cachinnation is their play, Let’s Laugh Again.

“We are doing this play after a long time. Normally we do a run up to the show, but this time we wanted to time it right—amid the ongoing fun and battle of the election," says Sharman, a poet and writer-music director of the play. A sneak preview of the play was staged on 3-4 May.

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Nation Goswami and guests in ‘Let’s Laugh Again’

“Indira Gandhi came to the theatre several times and always sat in the third row," says Vaidya. “The police didn’t know what to do. Sanjay Gandhi attempted to demolish our theatre (a wall was broken). We were called nationalists (because of their play The Ramayana) but asked not to do the (Let’s Laugh Again) play. The new Janata government wanted us to appear before the Shah Commission against Mrs Gandhi over the Doordarshan issue." They declined.

The play has evolved with each edition: with new jokes replacing the old ones. In the original play, Vaidya, now 78, played Indira Gandhi shut in a “steel box", only emerging from it after the Emergency. In the current version, she plays a member of Parliament, Jijabai Borekar. Watch the play to find out who “The Young Turks" of the Congress are, or enjoy the “Sonia washing powder" advertisement based on the old “Nirma" jingle.

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Didi and Bhai in ‘Let’s Laugh Again’

Joining their league are Rahu, Didi, Chikkilesh, Jharoowal and others—a pantomime of clones, with only the party names on their Gandhi topis (caps) distinguishing them—showcasing how addictive “power" play can get: a Congressman bribing the police; a Communist Party of India (Marxist) member bowing to the Congress; the Trinamool Congress chief pirouetting with a Tata Nano toy car in one hand, a bribe in the other; the Aam Aadmi Party’s jhadu (broom) sweeping others clean; and a Samajwadi Party member kicking Bahujan Samaj Party’s toy elephant, leaving the latter crying.

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The Young Turks: (left to right) Dhruv Shetty, Gaurav Gupta, Angad Thakur, Rakesh Palisetty in ‘Let’s Laugh Again’

Sharman, 79, says, “I personally think power corrupts…absolutely. Whoever comes to power, one will always be against them." He has invited some of the candidates from Delhi to the Lok Sabha for the show this weekend. Vaidya quips, “Theatre for us is not just a political tool, but a philosophical one, using wit ­to communicate our idea."

Let’s Laugh Again will be staged from 9-11 May and 17-18 May, 7.30pm, at Akshara Theatre, Baba Kharak Singh Marg, near RML Hospital, New Delhi. Tickets, 250, 350 and 500, available on in.bookmyshow.com and at the venue.

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