Indian Urdu writer, Ismat Chughtai, was truly a liberated woman for her time and age. The second part of Motley’s tribute to her is thus an emotional journey into the past.
The show consists of three short stories, hoping that we, the succeeding generations, familiarise ourselves with Chughtai’s works. The idea behind Motley’s one-man/ woman performances is to provide an authentic experience of the sub-continent’s most profound female writers.
Amar Bel is a story of a 50-year-old’s second marriage to a woman, who he knows is young enough to be his daughter. While this sends him from apprehension into ecstasy at first, he soon begins to emotionally abuse her as she only gets younger and more beautiful while he ages ungracefully.
The second story, Nanhi Ki Naani metaphorical and takes a dig at brutal nature towards a poor yet proud woman, who has lost everyone she cares for and still dares to go on.
Most of the show might seem a bit tragic, but that changes with Do Haath. Ram Avtar goes to serve in the army for three years and returns to his doting mother, promiscuous wife and one-year-old son. You do the math!
The idea of performing these short stories as monologues is ingenious as the audience truly gets to enjoy Chughtai’s works in their original form, language and all. Secondly, using seasoned actors such as Pahwa, Pahwa and Misra, who are quite renowned in the commercial sphere, constructs familiarity.
There wasn’t a vacant seat in the audience, some enthusiasts choosing the stairs, making me wonder… this haul, is it the result of genuine interest in the subject and her works, or is it because of Motley’s association with it?
Doesn’t matter, does it? A writer like Chughtai should never have been forgotten. If it takes one big thespian to revive her, we should hope they all use their ‘pull’ to reintroduce many, many more.