Review: Feroz Abbas Khan's 'Raunaq & Jassi' soars high on performances, music and story

Cast: Omkar Patil, Neha Sargam, Sonal Jha, and others | Director: Feroz Abbas Khan | Script and Lyrics: Iqbal Raj | Music: Piyush Kanojia | Choreography – Mayuri Upadhya | Costumes: Manish Malhotra

Review: Feroz Abbas Khan's 'Raunaq & Jassi' soars high on performances, music and story

For many years now, producer and director Feroz Abbas Khan's work in the world of theatre has managed to impress the audience. Recently, his musical Mughal-e-Azam garnered a lot of appreciation for its exemplary qualities. Continuing his interest in the same space, this time to once again show us a desi romantic love story, Khan brings 'Raunaq & Jassi' which is touted to be adaptation of Shakespeare's popular work Romeo and Juliet.

Neighbours, two clans - Jagirdar and Chaudhary - in a small town, have been enemies for years. There is nothing they like about each other, and the mere sight, conversation or news about someone, boils the blood of the men and women in the respective families. But amid this hatred brews a love story, which only seeks acceptance and wants to exist, with an aim that one day the lines of hatred and misunderstanding will be wiped, taking away the fear of any sort. Raunaq (Omkar Patil) and Jassi (Neha Sargam) express their liking and fall in love with each other. They share the news with their friends and close members of the family. While Raunaq talks about the same to his Mamaji, Jassi shares her story with Daima (Sonal Jha) who were earlier in love, but the communal disturbances never let them be one. With an aim to help their following generation love without fear, Mamaji and Daima take all possible measures and help the couple. But not everything happens so easily and as planned. An unfortunate incident changes the fate of the story, where true love is once again tested.

After many successful shows of Mughal-e-azam, director Feroz Abbas Khan, with Raunaq & Jassi, once again proves that he understands musicals unlike anybody else  in the country. The presentation of this romantic musical is phenomenal, and the best part about this is the simplicity. The quality of such a production shows in the various aspects of the musical, where it is clear that every department, be it creative or technical, has contributed a lot to ensure the experience is memorable.

Firstly, the script and lyrics written by Iqbal Raj deserve a lot of appreciation, as he has successfully written the entire story in a format, unlike I've heard ever. The dialogues in Raunaq & Jassi are one of the many highlights of the musical. They play a significant part in grasping one's attention and Iqbal's words do the magic until the end. His words add the soul to the emotions, and there are many lines which are applause worthy. Complementing the lyrics, is the voice of some of the songs (sung by Mirande Shah) and music (composed by Piyush Kanojia). Shah's command over the voice and her craft is exceptional, and it compels one to pay attention and a lot of times croon along as well.

Another aspect of the musical which enhanced the experience are leads - both Omkar and Neha - whose chemistry with each other's forms a connection with the audience instantly. It is certainly not an easy task to remember the tough script and lyrics, but both of them perform with ease. Their love brews with time, and it eventually they it takes the audience along on their journey. One of the special mentions in the play goes to Neha Sargam, who makes a powerful mark with her work, especially in the second half. In one of the sequences, she vents her pain and worries to Daima, and that elevates the musical and translates as expected. Other special mentions to Daima and Mamaji, who also support the cast well, thereby impress with their individual strong performances. The applause at the end of the show, especially during their introduction, said it all.

Choreography (by Mayuri Upadhya) is another aspect that deserves a mention, without which this musical would have lost a lot of entertainment value. The dancers made the intricate sequences look simple, and more importantly it complemented the story. Other integral elements like the set design (by Fali Unwalla), production design (John Narun), lighting design (by David Lander), costumes (by Manish Malhotra) etc. is likable and has been given a lot of focus, keeping the simplicity story in mind.

To conclude, 'Raunaq & Jassi' wins one's heart with the performances and the writing. Both the key aspects of this production deserve full marks as they immerse you in the fictional world Feroz Abbas Khan wants you to be a part of!