Hold on to your ‘chuddies’ (loin cloth) and get ready for some laughter with a desi production, which opens this week.
Ameet Chana joins Shabana Azmi on stage for a Rifco and Watford Palace Theatre production – ‘Happy Birthday Sunita’, with whom Asian Express newspaper have teamed up as a proud media partner.
The play, written by writer and actress Harvey Virdee and created by Pravesh Kumar is set to tour cities around the UK, as well as Dubai & Mumbai, and will arrive at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds from the 1st – 4th October.
Harvey Virdee, who plays ‘Mrs Malik’ in the comedy series ‘Citizen Khan’ and ‘The Landlady’ in comedy chat show ‘The Kumars’, has previously worked on a number of Rifco productions as writer and performer including ‘The Deranged Marriage’, ‘Meri Christmas’ and ‘There’s Something About Simmy’.
The play introduces audiences to a British Punjabi family, called the Johals, on the evening of daughter Sunita’s 40th birthday.
The family has come together to celebrate and mum (Shabana Azmi) has been working hard to make everything perfect. Nav (Ameet Chana) and Harleen (Goldy Notay) arrive bickering and Sunita (Clara Indrani) is nowhere to be seen.
As the curries simmer and rotis are smothered in full-fat butter, years of family drama bubbling under the surface start to boil over.
Speaking about the casting, Rifco’s Artistic Director, Pravesh Kumar said: “It’s not often you get the chance to work with one of your idols.
“Shabana Azmi is a world-class actress with a unique and rare talent. I am also excited to be working with some of the UK’s leading actors and actresses – Ameet Chana, Russell Floyd, and Goldy Notay. As part of our continued passion to support emerging talent, we have newcomer Clara Indrani alongside a seasoned cast.”
For bookings please visit http://rifcoarts.com/shows/happy-birthday-sunita/booking
Regarded as one of India’s finest actresses, Shabana Azmi heads the cast and play as Tejpal – the matriarch of the Johal house. Her multi-award winning career spans four decades, and has seen her star in over a hundred films. Shabana Azmi’s illustrious film credits include Mira Nair’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ and Deepa Mehta’s ‘Midnight’s Children’, and ‘Happy Birthday Sunita’ is her first UK theatre tour for Rifco and Watford Palace Theatre.
As Tejpal’s son ‘Nav’, Ameet Chana needs little introduction. The much-loved and charismatic actor has seen him garner numerous stage, TV and film credits to his name over the last fifteen years including Adi Ferreira in ‘Eastenders’, ‘East is East’, ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, ‘Run Fat Boy Run’, just to name a few. Over the last few years, Ameet has been involved in the production of music videos for British Asian music artists as well as becoming a high-profile events host up and down the country, including managing VIP dinners in the presence of bollywood celebrities.
Joining Ameet on stage, playing the part of Nav’s high maintenance wife ‘Harleen’, is Goldy Notay (‘There’s Something About Simmy’, ‘The Deranged Marriage‘). With numerous TV credits under her belt, Goldy also played Shabana’s daughter in Gurinder Chadha’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Afterlife’.
The all-important role of reclusive birthday girl ‘Sunita’ is played by Clara Indrani who has trained at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art where she performed in a number of productions. Her TV credits include Hollyoaks (Channel 4) and Gates (Sky Living).
Finally, completing the cast is Russell Floyd as ‘Maurice’- the builder who has been renovating the Johal kitchen. Russell is also a familiar face on TV, having been a regular on ‘The Bill’ and ‘Eastenders’.