New Play Shows the Difficulties of Being Gay in the Indian Community

Christian Durso and Andy Gala pray to Hindu deity Ganesh in A Nice Indian Boy.EXPAND
Christian Durso and Andy Gala pray to Hindu deity Ganesh in A Nice Indian Boy.
Michael Lamont

Nicely funny and not a whole lot more - such is the well-staged world-premiere comedy A Nice Indian Boy.

Keshav (Christian Durso) and Naveen (Andy Gala), two single Bay Area men, meet cute at a Hindu temple. Cut to six happy months later, when Naveen finally, nervously agrees to bring Keshav home to visit his old-school but well-meaning parents - who, as it turns out, are less scandalized by Naveen's sexual orientation than the fact that Keshav is a white guy, a former foster child adopted by a kind Indian family and raised to identify a bit too emphatically with the subcontinent. Just to mix it up further, Naveen and Keshav arrive on the same day that Naveen's sister, Arundhathi (Mouzam Makkar), has flown home unexpectedly to hide out while her quasi-arranged, picture-perfect marriage to a neurosurgeon unravels back east.
A Nice Indian Boy, written by Madhuri Shekar and directed by Snehal Desai, has some sweet and thoughtful things to say about family bonds and those moments when the nature of love can come down to a question of character, largely through a pair of delightful performances by the performers who play Naveen's parents. Rachna Khatau dexterously balances warmth and humor while sidestepping sentimental pitfalls as his socially naive but emotionally wise mother, while Anjul Nigam's delicious deadpan timing mixes well with the role's underlying friction between his love for his son and the weight of tradition, which also adds a needed soupçon of believable conflict to the froth.

This conflict is needed because the play moves too seamlessly through its narrative, reducing the messy experience of learning life's lessons to a few key plot points and a sitcom-ready take on the frustrations of first-generation Americans - matters not helped by the fact that its two leads are the least compelling aspects of the production.

East West Players, 120 Judge John Aiso St., dwntwn. Through March 23. (213) 625-7000,

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