For Rakesh Bedi, playing the same characters never gets old.
For 13 years, he has taken on the roles of 24 characters in his one-man stage play, Massage, which returns to Dubai Community Theatre & Arts Centre in Mall of the Emirates on April 1.
In the tour-de-force production, the veteran 60-year-old actor effortlessly slips into roles ranging from a sleazy movie director to a woman in distress
"The play is still relevant as it exposes the underbelly of any metropolis. It has a lot of humour in it, which makes such plays evergreen," says Bedi, who made a mark in Bollywood as a funnyman in movies such as Chashme Buddoor (1981) and the television series Yes Boss (1999-2009).
The two-act monologue is the account of Mr Kohli, a resident of a small town who dreams of success in Bollywood but ends up as an assistant to a director of low-quality films.
In his desperation he is forced to become a masseur and meets amusing and annoying clients who represent different facets of Indian society.
Bedi says the play’s enduring appeal lies in tweaking the script to keep it fresh.
“We’ve had a few improvisations along the way to make the play more contemporary but haven’t changed the content,” he says.
“I believe people find it interesting viewing as there is one man holding the attention for two hours.”
In terms of a characters that are audience favourites, Bedi expects the audience to warm to the Indian minister’s peculiar personal assistant.
“Pandey has a bad throat, hardly audible and quite funny,” he says. “I also enjoyed playing this menacing lawyer the masseur meets. All these characters take the story forward.”
Performing comedy on stage provides immediate gratification, says Bedi, which explains his near four-decade career.
“Stage has no retakes and excuses, and you instantly get feedback from the audience, which is why it is exciting,” he says.
“It also allows me to travel all over the world, keeps my wits sharp – and doesn’t allow me to grow old.”
• Massage will be staged at Ductac, Mall of the Emirates on April 1 at 7pm. Tickets, from Dh90, at www.ductac.org.