Bandra is celebrating and guess who’s joining in? The first family of theatre, The Motley Group. Naseeruddin Shah’s theatre company is set to perform 5 of its best plays during the festival. Shirin Mehrotra tells you what to look forward to.
Ismat aapa Ke Naam I
This play was my introduction to the Motley group and can be defined in two words, ‘sheer brilliance’. Based on the stories of Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai, the play is more like a narration where actors become the storytellers as well as the characters. The three stories Chui Mui, Mughal Bachcha and Gharwali deal with the position of women in the male dominated society.
The first story Chui Mui is about a pregnant woman who should deliver a baby in order to stop her husband from leaving her. She takes utmost care so that the baby is safe but the contrast comes in when she sees another woman delivering in a train that too without any help. This story in narrated by Heeba Shah who shows that she is a powerhouse of talent.
Ratna Pathak Shah narrates the second story Mughal Bachcha. The story is about a failed and arrogant ruler who abandons his newlywed wife. The experience is like a grandmother telling a story. Ratna moves from character to character with natural ease and is a treat to watch. Her bent back and scrunched eyes will instantly remind you of your grandmas.
Naseeruddin Shah takes the reins of Gharwali in his hands and moves swiftly between the characters of Lajjo and Mirza. The story is about Lajjo who is famous for flirting with unknown men and has many admirers. She finds a care taker in Mirza Sahib who marries her but deprives her of all the fun. Naseer convincingly enacts Lajjo’s part with just a pout, a giggle and a sway of his waist.
Having watched Ismat aapa ke naam already, I am looking forward to other plays by Motley and expecting a bout of great performances.
Manto Ismat Haazir Hain
The play features the most controversial stories Lihaaf and Un Byahtaon Ke Naam by Ismat Chughtai and Bu and Titwal Ka Kutta by Saadat hasan Manto. These stories questioned the hypocrite Indian society of the 40s and almost got the writers behind the prison.
The Caine Mutiny Court Martial
Written by Herman Wouk, the play delves into the tragedy of war and also talks about the psyche of those who are on the forefront.
Based on the works of the Noble laureate George Bernard Shaw, By George is a tribute to Shaw by Shah. The play is a
medley of two plays How He Lied To Her Husband and Village Wooing and a longish poem English Pronounciation. It is a humorous take on man-woman equation.
Ismat Aapa Ke Naam II
The second edition of this play is the narration of 3 stories by Ismat Chughtai. Amar Bel, Nanhi Ki Nani and Do Haath are performed by Manoh Pahwa, Lovleen Mishra and Seema Pahwa respectively.
The Caine Mutiny Court Martial – 21st November
Manto Ismat Haazir Hain – 22nd November
Ismat Aapa Ke Naam II – 23rd November
By George – 24th and 25th November
Ismat aapa Ke Naam I – 26th November
Venue: HUL Park, Bandra
Near Hawaiian Shack