Actor-director Akarsh Khurana prepares Bengaluru for ‘The F Word’, a sensitive take on dysfunctional family dynamics

ByFathima Ashraf

Published Nov 16, 2023 | 9:00 AMUpdatedNov 16, 2023 | 9:00 AM

Akarsh Khurana's 'The F Word' comes to Bengaluru after successful runs in Mumbai and Delhi. (Supplied)

Family get-togethers aren’t often what they seem to be. As people navigate through the complexities of life in  urban India, families tend to get caught up in a web of complicated dynamics and unresolved issues. And these issued surface when family members meet.

Offering a sensitive and humorous take on take on this, Mumbai’s Aadyam Theatre is bringing the play The F Word to Bengaluru.

Helmed by actor-director Akarsh Khurana, The F Word explores the intricate dynamics within a dysfunctional family. Lasting over 75-minutes, the play navigates through the complex relationship between an aging father and his children through humour.

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More than a casual meet-up

“It’s a simple play about a family that is catching up for lunch,” shares Akarsh Khurana, who is known for his works such as TVF Tripling, Yeh Meri Family, Mismatched, among several others.

Akarsh Khurana. (Supplied)

Akarsh Khurana. (Supplied)

He adds, “Here, two estranged siblings are travelling back to their hometown to take their father out for lunch. While it seems like a casual catch-up, it gradually turns out to become intervention. The children have have come to learn of a few things that are a bit worrisome, in terms of what’s happening back at home.” 

They are trying to figure out what’s going on in their parents’ life. What starts off as a dysfunctional family comedy builds on to becoming an emotional drama.

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Exploring dysfunction

The play propels its audience through a spectrum of intricate emotions as the family struggles with their troubled history and current challenges.

“I love content that’s based on a dysfunctional family dynamic,” Khurana tells South First.

“I think this family dynamic can be used for a lot of comedy as well as drama. There is also a high sense of relatability with that for those people who are watching,” he adds.

This play cleverly dances with the notion that every family harbours hidden truths and secrets. (Supplied)

This play cleverly dances with the notion that every family harbours hidden truths and secrets. (Supplied)

Although there is an accompanying live score, 50 percent of the play is actually just three people having a conversation. Khurana notes that the work he’s been doing for the last few years are focused on longer conversations.

“I feel like we are losing the art of long meaningful conversations because people have a short attention span. That’s something I have been trying to bring back. To have people talking and see how engaging that can be.”

And that approach demands the team to fall back on the basics. 

“Instead of all the extra elements in the play, you are falling back on the writing and performances. We have to keep it interesting, funny and relatable. Nothing works without a bunch of actors who get the brief and are able to invest in it and draw you in to the conversation. The pressure is on them,” he notes.

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Getting the right cast

Khurana calls the play a dark comedy, one that’s realistic and emotional.

Akash Khurana (Akarsh’s father) embodies the poignant aspects of ageing with in his portrayal of the father. Actor Siddharth Kumar exposes his vulnerabilities and imperfections as the brother. Malaika Shenoy brings to life the character of the sister with charm and sensitivity, while Garima Yajnik’s portrays the role of the restaurant owner.

Amidst the chaos, the characters inadvertently unveil a trove of long-concealed family secrets. (Supplied)

Amidst the chaos, the characters inadvertently unveil a trove of long-concealed family secrets. (Supplied)

I wrote the play keeping these actors in mind, Khurana notes.

“I think casting people who respect the work and are able to find the balance between keeping it real and keeping it funny is important,” shares Khurana adding that he is looking forward to bringing the play to Bengaluru.

“Most of our plays tend to do really well in Bengaluru. The city has a very evolved audience. I’m very excited to see how we react to this.”

Having dabbled in multiple media including film and TV, Khurana ends the conversation by calling theatre his ‘happy place.’

“Theatre is where I began. In that sense, it’s home and very much my happy place. It is where I go to create without any kind of restrictions. The kind of freedom that theatre gives, no other medium can. I have been running a company for the last 23 years. So I have a free hand in choosing the kind of stuff that I want to create. And that to me is is very liberating,” he signs off.

Also Read: Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival returns with its 19th edition

Tickets available online

Date: 17-18 November

Time: 7 pm, 3.30 pm, 7.30 pm

Venue: Ranga Shankara