Her Letters, presented by Qissa Kothi in collaboration with SsmaranN, is based on Rabindranath Tagore's short story Streer Patra. The play revolves around the story of Mrinal, a woman whose troubles from over a hundred years ago are still relatable to many women in modern India. In its 14th run, the play talks about a wide range of issues that deal with the status of women. The show was a full house, and rightly so as it tells a story that needs to be out there for all to see.
Mrinal is writing to her husband about her life, with an outpouring of words that she has long repressed. She has always felt invisible, especially as she is a thinking woman in a culture that doesn't value women for their minds. She is treated like a property – married at a young age to a man who found her beauty agreeable enough to take her from her parents' home and give her a place in his. She is never allowed to show her true self in the patriarchal society. Even after fifteen years of marriage, her husband barely knows who Mrinal is as a person. Her life changes once Bindu comes into her home. Bindu is an unwanted guest, but Mrinal forms a close relationship with the girl and tries to protect her from the cruelties of the rest of the family. While Bindu's life might not have a happy ending, it gives Mrinal the chance to finally explore her own.
The actors, Lata S. Singh and Bharati Perwani, gave a wonderful performance as they relayed the different aspects of Mrinal and Bindu. The two worked in a synonymous synergy that was mesmerizing to witness. This is not a conventional play – it uses props found in any ordinary household to symbolize the boundaries that have been created for women. It is a powerful narrative that gives you a lot to think about.
Director Sharmistha Saha has created a marvelous production which grasps you and forces you to think about the implications of the world created through years of culturally accepted oppression that relegates women to a substandard position. While India is working towards giving women the same rights as men, there are still many Mrinals out there who barely have an identity apart from that of their husband. Mrinal might be fictional, but her story is not.
If you missed Her Letters this time, Qissa Kothi will soon be back with another thought-provoking play. Meanwhile, keep a look out for more upcoming plays here.