A Brimful of Asha: A staged anatomy of arranged marriage

Theatre

A Brimful of Asha: PuSh Festival and Arts Club present this heartwarming, hilarious true story of a mothers love and a sons devotion put to the test when Asha tries to arrange Ravis marriage. Submitted/Cylla von Tiedemann

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Most families keep their arguments behind closed doors — but Ravi Jain shares his with an audience full of strangers.

The now 34-year-old Toronto-based director can still vividly recall the many years he spent fending off his parents’ seemingly endless efforts to arrange his marriage.

“There (was) a bunch of different girls that they (kept) pushing on me,” Jain recalled, explaining that with an arranged marriage the potential couple meets, followed by a meeting of the families, then within a couple of hours, a decision must be made. “I freaked out.

“How can I decide in two hours?”

As he talked to friends about his comical (for outsiders) grief of how it all “went horribly wrong,” he got the idea to make a one-man-show out of it.

He jokingly told his mother: “I’m going to make a show and tell the world what a terrible mom you are.”

To which she responded: “If the audience saw my side of the story, they would see that you’re a terrible son and they’d agree with me.”

And so A Brimful of Asha was born, starring Jain as himself and his mother, Asha Jain (who is “just a normal mom” with no acting experience), playing herself as well.

The show began in Toronto in 2012 and is currently touring Canada, making its stop in Vancouver Jan. 16 to Feb. 8 at the Revue Stage, presented by the ArtsClub and the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.

“The show is really the two of us telling the story from both of our perspectives and arguing about why things happened the way they did,” said Jain. “We’re just telling the story — it’s no flash and pizzazz.

“It’s as if you came over to our house, you walk in, we welcome you and give you a samosa and we sit around the table and make fun of each other and tell stories and just laugh.”

According to Jain, the story begins in his early 20s, before he went to grad school, when he found out — to his horror — that his parents tried to arrange for him to marry a close girlfriend.

“I’m going to coffee with my friend and she says, ‘I don’t know if you know this, but your parents are trying to get us married,’ ” recalled Jain. “They called her parents to try to set us up and I was mortified.

“I was so embarrassed, because I felt like such a loser … my parents asking to get married — are you high? Are you nuts? This is so insane.”

He only found himself in similar and more uncomfortable situations for years to come. After grad school, he was off for a trip to India and about a week before he left, his parents “conveniently” booked a flight to tag along.

His parents, an arranged marriage themselves of 40 happy years, “orchestrated” a number of meetings with a young girl and her family while in India.

“This is actually nuts. I don’t know this person,” Jain recalled telling his parents as he refused to follow through with the marriage.

But his lack of interest and refusal only resulted in numerous arguments and more parades of girls, not only while they were in India, but even back home in Toronto.

“It was always something that was going on,” he said.

A Brimful of Asha, Jain’s most personal and cultural performance yet, is his exploration of why immigrant parents “are so obsessed with having their kids married.”

And while for some it may seem an unbelievable tale, it’s relatable for many immigrant families.

“Both of us are stuck between these two cultures and I think a lot of people will get that now, especially in Canada because there are so many people from everywhere else,” Jain said.

“I had two worlds — I had my Indian friends and my school friends . . . so you had these two different lives. On holidays and traditions you’d dress in Indian clothes for those things and then you change for your normal life.

“So you’re always stuck in these weird places.”

Fortunately Jain was able to translate his childhood issues into more than just the comic relief that is A Brimful of Asha — while touring the performance, he managed to snag he and his mother’s much sought-after wife, but “one of my own choosing.”

lcahute@vancouverdesi.com

twitter.com/larissacahute

INFOBOX
On stage
A Brimful of Asha
Where: Revue Stage, 1601 Johnson St.
When: Thursday to Feb. 8
Tickets: $25-$35 at artsclub.com

Tags: , , , , ,





Featured

Selfies - inked finger-Twitter

Indian city bans selfies inside polling booths (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI The next selfie you snap could land you in jail – for Indian voters at least. According to Indian news publication the Bangalore…
Continue Reading »

worship-India

Six-year-old worshipped for patch of hair on his back that has grown into a tail

VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old Indian boy is being worshipped by villagers for a small patch of hair on his back that has grown into a…
Continue Reading »

Rahul Gandhi

India Elections: Rahul Gandhi attacks Narendra Modi’s ‘toffee model’

IANS Agra – Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi kept up his attack on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s “toffee model” of development that only…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Police tape off a residence at 3319 Kingsway in Vancouver, BC, April 14, 2014 after police shot a man who stabbed a woman and child. Arlen Redekop / PNG

Shot murder suspect under guard in hospital

IAN AUSTIN VANCOUVER DESI VANCOUVER - A 33-year-old Vancouver man has been charged with the murder of his mother and the attempted murder of his niece….
Continue Reading »

Stephen Harper-Canada-Prime Minister

Sri Lanka accuses Canada of using Commonwealth funding as political tool

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka accused Canada on Tuesday of using its funding of the Commonwealth for political purposes. The accusation…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood dancing

Gallery: Blossom Bollywood at Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom Festival

VANCOUVER DESI Shiamak Davar’s Vancouver dance team took part in the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday. Dancers performed…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Muslim Surveillance Program

New York police ends Muslim surveillance program that sparked outrage

TOM HAYS And JAKE PEARSON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK — The New York Police Department said Tuesday it has disbanded a special unit whose efforts to…
Continue Reading »

India-crime

Eatery owner stabbed to death over less than $1

IANS New Delhi – A 35-year-old eatery owner was Tuesday stabbed to death while his younger brother was injured in an attack by seven people…
Continue Reading »

Human sperm

Sperm may deliver stress too

IANS London – Your dad did not just pass his qualities via genes in you. He may have actually passed some stress too! A research…
Continue Reading »

trudeau

Gallery: Justin Trudeau celebrates with thousands at Vancouver Vaisakhi

VANCOUVER DESI Justin Trudeau, Christy Clark and thousands of others were out in the Saturday sunshine to celebrate Vancouver’s 25th annual Vaisakhi parade. The event,…
Continue Reading »

Ajit Singh, father of Jagtar Gill, is overcome with emotion as he leaves the courthouse Monday.Pat McGrath/Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa mom’s husband charged with first-degree murder (with video)

CHRIS COBB OTTAWA CITIZEN OTTAWA  — Minutes after Bhupinderpal Gill’s brief appearance in a packed courtroom Monday an emotional group of relatives and friends…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood

Shah Rukh Khan would love to dance on ‘Gangnam Style’ with Psy

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan wants to dance with Korean rap sensation Psy on his global hit Gangnam Style, according to the Press…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Hrithik Roshan seeks health tips for ‘shin splints’ from Twitter fans

IANS Mumbai – Actor Hrithik Roshan, who underwent brain surgery last year, is again suffering from “shin splints”. The 40-year-old complained of pain in the…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Rajeev Khandelwal: Being in industry an endless marathon

IANS Mumbai – Actor Rajeev Khandelwal says that being in the film industry is like an endless marathon and the one who survives till the…
Continue Reading »