This past year five women theatre activists interested in promoting women's theatre got together with a view to promoting theatre in Delhi as well as help to increase the participation of women in theatre. But why the "Hungry Heart", this critic asked Sohaila Kapur, a well-known director, actor and playwright as also one of the activists of Hungry Hearts. "The name came about because we sought to produce plays that emphasised the emotional hunger of human beings to reach out to each other", she said, "hence our first festival in 2005 emphasised on human relationship and it was called the Hungry Heart - Women in Relationship Festival." Fair enough.To commemorate International Women's Day, The Hungry Heart in collaboration with Old World Culture presented last week Smita Bharti's new play "Jail Birds", directed by Sohaila Kapur. First a brief introduction to the playwright. Apart from being a writer/director she is also an actress who has been working with directors like Rajinder Nath and others. For her work in the field of culture, education and human rights her medium has been theatre and story telling. "Jail Birds", is built around the relationship between mother and daughter who have met after 14 years. Anup, the mother, is nearing the end of her 14-year jail sentence for killing her husband. An accidental discovery finally brings Amrita to meet her mother. An emotional conflict follows.
The meeting between the two works at different levels and finally there is reconciliation between the two.Sohaila Kapur's overall production design is marked for its restraint even in scenes that are boiling with pent-up anger between the daughter and the mother. Unfortunately one has not seen much of Smita Bharti's work on stage and if her performance in "Jail Birds", is any indication, one has missed a lot. And if her daughter Anchal Bharti's contrasting moods and mannerisms are any indication she has a lot of potential and with more experience and training could go far."Jail Birds" must be kept alive and whenever it is on the boards again it is well worth a visit but one strongly feels that if it had been in Hindi it would have had a much stronger impact. ROMESH CHANDER