“Ismat- Ek Aurat” By Sutradhar
Venue: Nritya Forum For Performing Arts
Title: Ismat Ek Aurat. Do Kahaniyan
Based on two short stories by Ismat Chughtai
Director: Vinay Varma
Saas revolves around the story of a grumpy old mother in-law. Her daily travails and constant tribulations in the form of noisy neighbourhood kids, pesky insects and an insolent son find her praying for death soon enough. She ends up directing her ire at her daughter-in-law. But is she all venom and malice?
Chidi Ki Duki is a nuanced critique of the stereotypes of beauty, love and marriage, replete with handsome heartthrobs, ‘fan girls’ and witty flirtations.
To praise or write about Ismat Chughtai’s at once incisive, insightful and delightful writing would be akin to showing a candle to the sun.
Why the play was named Ismat – Ek Aurat was explained to those present by reading out a little note of correspondence concerning the intrigue in the Hyderabad of yore, as to why Manto and Chugtai did not marry each other. This set the right tone for the measured, lively and layered performances from Pallavi Verma (Saas) & Dipti Girotra (Chiddi Ki Dukki).
Using storytelling techniques similar to Dastangoi, slipping effortlessly into various characters in their stories, the two actors delighted the audience with the various quirks and mannerisms of characters ranging from rural housewives to PhD wielding professors.
While one would be hard pressed to find a flaw in the performances, they could have been elevated by better sound and light design. The constraints of the venue notwithstanding, superior technical support would certainly have added to the mood the actors had so successfully created.