Centre Stage Creations / Sanskriti Sagar hosted two all-women shows recently. Manhar Gadhia Production’s 7 x 3=21, their third edition of seven monologues, exclusively featured actresses for the first time. Director Pratik Gandhi chose the theme of desire, which immediately suggests inspiration from Heather Raffo’s 9 Parts of Desire, enacted in India by Ira Dubey. The differences lie in Raffo’s subjects – nine Iraqi ladies – and Dubey’s solo presentation, whereas Gandhi lowers the bar by using Indian characters and separate authors and performers for each 20-minute sketch. On the other hand, as Gadhia caters primarily to Gujarati audiences but reprises the original in Hindi for us, and most of his common cast are fluently bilingual (even trilingual, in English), their verbal dexterity is exemplary.
The “womanologues”, as so coined, traverse wide territory. Two deal with older women earning to survive: an auto-rickshaw driver who bootlegs; a mother who cooks tiffins and takes a liking to her handsome 21st client. The latter is written innovatively by Ram Mori, because we only hear about her from her impatient daughter (acted naturally by Chitralekha Rathod). Another pair narrates the real-life stories of Arunima Sinha, the Everest summiteer who had lost her leg after a train assault, and Madhubala’s tragic loves (inexplicably portrayed with a fixed smile).
The rest describe the marital problems of younger ladies: a divorcee playing the field, dates facilitated by Tinder, and a professional pressured into arranged matchmaking. Since these share some common ground, all three evoke a feeling of overlap, but the last-named steals the entire show, driven equally by Abhinay Banker’s witty and ironic script and a powerhouse performance by Ami Trivedi, a name to watch out for, as the outspoken talker who idolizes and dances like Govinda but cannot confess this infra-dig weakness. She should pronounce “Bharatanatyam” correctly, though. Unfortunately, the painted screens contribute nothing to Gandhi’s set.
Titli ki Maut by Wajood, the Millennium Mams’ theatre wing, closed the Sabhagar Festival drearily, not suited to a national-level event. The play, about a girl’s suicide investigated by a CBI officer who never existed, comes straight out of Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, unacknowledged and during the run of another local Hindi adaptation of the same drama. Like the inspector, Chaiti Ghoshal’s direction doesn’t exist, the actresses moving very stiffly or awkwardly. It is not their fault, for I have seen the Mams doing excellent work before on Bawre Man ke Sapne.
(From The Times of India, 12 April 2019)