The Hindu Theatre Fest helped us witness a 20th Century — yet could easily be contemporary — portrayal of our society. Motley’s Aurat! Aurat! Aurat! is based on a few short stories by Ismat Chughtai, who incidentally is one of the favourite authors of Naseeruddin Shah, the director of the play.
The plot revolves around the life of the author. She had gone against the wind by not marrying early, travelling widely and raising her voice against anything odd, even in those days when conservatism was at its peak and society was typically chauvinistic.
The dialogues and the underlying subtle sense of humour keep the audience enthralled. Of course, if you are a little bit conversant with Urdu, it really helps. A simple but brilliant stage craft, and lighting just right for the tone and tenor of the plot, brought about a distinct dimension to the entire presentation. The train sequence is a treat for the eyes and the way it has been executed demands applause. In the second half, a tea serving moment stands out for its nuanced directorial touch. Flawless direction by the legend himself, of course, doesn’t need any special mention.
On the acting front, veteran and seasoned actor Seema Pahwa does full justice to her role as a lead narrator, as the play builds around her. Not to forget the performance of Bhavna Pani with her beautiful voice modulation.
But the lady who really impressed me is Shruti Vyas, with her phenomenal performance. Prerna Chawla, Trishla Patel and young Jaya Virlley also do justice to their roles. Though the play portrays life in a century-old society,as you walk out of the theatre, the thought that lingers in your mind is: have things really changed? As the French proverb goes: the more things change the more they remain the same!
Tapas Moitra, Velachery
Shades of a woman
Aplay with three ‘exclamation marks’ in its title against the noun — woman! Well, that isn’t surprising, for whoever has understood her, whoever has tried to get to know the human mind behind the physical aspect of her being a ‘woman’. The play depicts the many shades of a woman’s life through characters from Ismat Chughtai’s novels and her own autobiographical work. The cast does a splendid visualisation of a train journey with the body movements, the luggage strewn around and the ‘in your face’ looks and questioning so typical of an Indian train journey.The women in the play innocently ask deep questions relating to women’s liberation, education and equality in the society.The answers sometimes come from a monkey, who seems better at family planning, or a dog’s litter of eight, which signifies as the answer to intruding questions.A play should give the audience questions to ponder on. Aurat! Aurat! Aurat! makes you ponder on whether we still need the exclamation in the 21st Century.
– Rekha Balakrishnan, Thiruvanmiyur
A fitting tribute
How does one portray the myriad struggles a woman faces? Motley’s Aurat! Aurat! Aurat! directed by Naseeruddin Shah, did it with élan. Based on the work of firebrand Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai, the play deftly explored the female perspective through arresting monologues and unforgettable characters. Laced with acerbic wit, hard-hitting questions and hilarious repartee, it took the audience through an array of emotions expressed with poise and conviction. Avoiding clichés, the play’s unflinching take on gender equality, was a fitting tribute to a fearless woman, whose words ring true today. What a start to the theatre festival!
-Joshua Karunakaran, Anna Nagar West
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