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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

With An All-Women Cast, Naseeruddin Shah’s Play Opens To Packed House In Mumbai

  • IWB Post
  •  April 14, 2018

Mumbai-based theatre group Motley has opened to packed houses in Prithvi theatre, Mumbai, with its third theatrical production Aurat! Aurat!! Aurat!!! based on Ismat Chughtai’s writings. Directed by Naseeruddin Shah, the play is based on Chughtai’s autobiography and essays like Ek Shauhar ki Khaatir, Aadhi Aurat Aadha Khwaab and Soney ka Anda and has an all-female cast.

In a recent interview with the Indian Express, Shah shared the reason behind turning it into an all-women play.

“I instantly felt that this had to be done by women since these writings were in the first person. These lovely actors (Seema Pahwa, Bhavna Pani, Trishla Patel, Shruti Vyas, Prerna Chawla, Jaya Virrley) are playing Ismat at various stages of her life. The first essay is about her childhood. It is very fascinating to know what she was like as a child. She refused to tow the line from the very start. It is worth emphasizing,” he said.

Naseeruddin Shah

Scene from the rehearsal. Image source

He also talked about the three essays he chose for the play and how they progress.

“One of the episodes is in a train compartment. While travelling alone, she met all these ladies who wanted to know where is she going, just like it happens during any train journey in India. If you are a woman, then the inevitable question that pops up is, ‘Are you married’? She is exasperated with this question, as everyone asks it sooner or later,” he explained.

“In Adhi Aurat Adha Khwab, she is talking to the other women in the household — an old lady who cooks, washerwoman and others. Men appear time to time, saying chauvinistic things, and women have a ball ripping them apart,” he added.

“The third essay, Soney ka Anda, comes close to a story. It is an episode about a man having his third daughter and the woman’s point of view. Why is a woman expected to lay a golden egg, in this case a boy. This is one of her most intense pieces. Previously, I had not come across her arguing her point so vehemently.”

But it is evident from the play that Shah has changed the format while presenting Chughtai’s essays.

“I have turned it into a conversation in a household where women are compelled to do the chores. Had they been educated, they would have had better lives. I often think of my mom and her five sisters. None of them were educated, except for learning to write in Urdu and reading the Quran. My mother would have done something better with her life had she been educated. Women have been denied access to education for centuries,” he said.

H/T: The Indian Express


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