Mitr Rangmanch has always strived to promote and spread messages of social importance. This has been a key theme in most of their plays such as Taj Mahal Ka Tender, Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya O Jamiya Nai, A Private Affair and many more. Keeping in line with their social awareness agenda Bebaak Manto too presents the stark reality of the world’s oldest profession – prostitution. The play was staged at Akshara Theatre. The old rustic theatre synced perfectly well with the setting of the play.
WHAT’S BEBAAK MANTO ABOUT:
Delivering a brilliant solo-performance, we see the star of the play, Daksh Vashisht presenting different shades of reality that a sex-worker goes through.
We see him – a fearless, Urdu-speaking Manto, Sugandhi – a prostitute with a good, vulnerable heart, Ramlal – Sugandhi’s pimp, and several other characters. The finesse and realism with which Daksh portrays all these characters are commendable. The story is about Sugandhi, a sex-worker, trying to find love and respect in people who look down upon her in daylight but by night, confess their love to her. The narrative unfolds when a prospective customer insults her. The pain and hurt that Sugandhi experiences are also felt by the audience. It is only fair to point out the brilliant acting of Daksh Vashisht wherein you want to go and console Sugandhi for feeling so rejected by the society.
The jolting performance by Daksh Vashisht takes the center stage, as does the music by Rishabh Parashar. Daksh’s stage presence, intense acting and spaced dialogue with the audience engaging them were an altogether different experience. The director and actor Anil Sharma stayed true to Manto and his style of story-writing. It is a layered narrative with every character presenting a certain type of a person in the society that we live in.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
The play has a serious topic as its theme and therefore might not be everybody’s cup of tea. The topic of prostitution is not only looked down upon but is taboo as well. But it is a treat for people who'd like another point of view, as it is a very well-written play with brilliant performances, good music and a theme that is relevant in every century.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH IT:
It is a well-written play that exposes the hypocrisy of the society. Daksh’s monologues presenting the absolute and almost depressing reality of sex workers' life will perhaps be the second thing you will take with you after the play ends. The first being the raw emotions he portrays. You will be in awe of his skills. The standing ovation at the end of the play and the roar of clapping were proof enough that the play was stellar.
— Vishakha Bhagia