Every time a piece of art – be it a play, a book, a poem or a movie – discusses the problems and oppression of women in society, the question is raised, “This again?” Such works are often casually dismissed as the subject matter is truly not fresh or new. So then why are they made, people ask. Perhaps, because they are still needed.
Despite the many plays and movies that have been made about it, the persecution of women in different parts of society continues. And as long as the problem still exists, we are going to have to keep talking about it to find the solution.
Do Boond Roshni Ki was an evening of two plays, and the first one, Pussy Riot, spoke about just this. And the women who dare to speak and write about this. The ridicule they face as women writing about women’s realities, sexuality and oppression was given a voice, and a very passionate one at that. Two women writers (played by Delnaz Divecha and Surabhi Subramonian) discussed the problem the world has with women expressing love and desire freely, through a recitation of controversial and sometimes banned works of other women writers, like Ismat Chughtai, Eve Ensler and Sylvia Plath. Their conversation had an intensity that mirrored what they spoke about. As these two scorned at the world’s attempts to control the sexuality of women and their sexual freedom, they encouraged the audience to do the same. By declaring the right of a woman to enjoy sex, they reminded those present to not judge them for it.
The second play, Do Boond Roshni Ki, ventured into deeper and murkier waters. Perhaps, that is why this gritty play was entirely in Hindi, unlike Pussy Riot, which was largely in English. The ‘do boond’ in this play are a prostitute and a eunuch, who fall in love but struggle to escape the shackles of their past. The wounds of the physical violence they have suffered have scabbed, but the emotional and psychological wounds were too deep to heal and are poisoning their relationship. Suhas Chatkara put up a gripping performance as the eunuch who desperately wants to be free of the ghost of the man who bought him as a boy and made him a eunuch. His energy was matched by Arnesh Ghose, who played the tor-mentor who loved him and controlled him, and though dead, controls him still. Their interaction revealed the complexity of his emotional situation. His lover (Surabhi) tries to understand it and help him, but she has her own demons to battle.
Do Boond Roshni Ki was a lot more intense and enlightening than Pussy Riot but also a lot more depressing. Pussy Riot held out a ray of hope, in that clearly these women have a voice, no matter how beleaguered it is. But it is hard to envision an escape for the protagonists in Do Boond Roshni Ki, and the many submerged voices they represent.
While a re-enactment of these two plays is some ways off, The Mirror Merchants is putting up its other production Murgistaan again this weekend. Conceived on a lighter note, this political satire tells the tale of a king and his plans to brainwash the people in his kingdom. Will he succeed? Head to Murgistaan and see for yourself!