Theatre

Story of indomitable will

Twist in the plot: A scene from “Lallan Ms” Special Arrangement

Twist in the plot: A scene from “Lallan Ms” Special Arrangement  

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Rama Pandey’s “Lallan Ms” is a straightforward narrative of the heroic struggle of a transgender

In recent past, we have seen on the Delhi stage some plays about the lives of transgenders living in a hostile society. By far, “Janeman”, which was presented by the Repertory Company of National School of Drama under the direction of eminent theatre director Waman Kendre, remains the most outstanding theatrical piece on the theme. Recently, we saw “Lallan Ms” which was presented by Rama Theatre Natya Vidya and Montage Films at Shri Ram Centre based on the real life story of a eunuch who makes heroic struggle to bring light and hope to the nightmarish world of the marginalised.

Written and directed by Rama Pandey, she has her first encounter with an eunuch at a red light signal. A policeman cruelly treats an eunuch who begs at the red light when traffic stops for some time. She is told that the policeman takes some money by force for allowing him to beg at the time of red light, signalling drivers to stop. She has another encounter with the same eunuch when her chauffeur has to stop the car owing to tyre-puncture. She has more information about the lives of eunuchs.

Excited, she jots down hurriedly a script to make a documentary but her boss rejected the proposal outright. After a few years, she gets the chance to make documentary on the life and mission of eunuch Lallan Ms who has opened a teaching centre against heavy odds in a slum area, a dingy place the marginalised and eunuch community called their home. The film could not be completely shot because of technical fault. But she continues her conversation with “Lallan Ms” with the passion of a filmmaker.

As a narrator as well as a character she tells the audience startling facts about a girl child who lives in the colony of the marginalised. She tells her, she is not an eunuch. When her parents came to know that she is not a male infant but a girl, they threw her into the heaps of garbage. Someone rescued her and adopted her and she is reading in the school Lallan Ms has opened because she cannot effort to go to a regular school.

Song and dance

“Lallan Ms” tells Maya about her struggle in opening the school. Herself an illiterate, she meets a kind-hearted and highly cooperative lady principal of a school who guides her in organising the school. More and more students started attending the school but it is difficult to get teachers to work in a school like this and that too without pay, but some educated young people start giving lessons to the children who have never seen school. Lallan Ms and her school have to confront an existential battle against land mafia and their blood thirsty muscle men.

The production is replete with dance and song sequences performed by the groups of men acting as eunuch at various occasions, especially at the time of the birth of a male child in a prosperous family. There is a dance sequence set before the house of a rich man. It is revealed that the couple has given birth to six daughters, one after the other. Every time a girl is born, gloom pervades the family and if eunuchs arrive, the family shooed them in an angry voice. Now that a male child has born the eunuchs are welcomed with open arms and offered huge money and gifts who wish the child a long life while performing dances holding the child to the breast. The scene illustrates the pathetic way patriarchal society treats a female child.

Rama takes us to Kashmir where eunuchs are treated with respect. To illustrate her point, she presents a musical concert where highly sophisticated Kashmiri artists sing even as eunuchs present their art. The eunuch singing complements to the elegant recital of Kashmiri artists. Though Rama is the main narrator, there is a chorus that sings “Suno, Suno, Ye Duniyawalo Lallan Ki Ye Kahani Rama Pandey Ki Jubaani”. The chorus sings it as a refrain.

The play ends on a tragic note. When Lallan's school starts functioning effectively, he faces a dreaded enemy who is determined to remove the marginalised people from their homes as well as the school, using musclemen. Lallan organises a strong resistance against goons and sits on an indefinite hunger strike.

The production remains invariably loud, its narrative is straightforward and the action moves on surface. The rhythmic variances are absent to reveal performers inner emotional and psychological conflicts. However, there are some strong theatrical elements which enable the audience to watch the show with keen interest.

Rama Pandey is endowed with a rich voice and the ability to communicate to the audience with remarkable clarity. Shahzor Ali as Lallan Ms gives a spirited performance. His Lallan has indomitable will and conviction to fight for the cause of the marginalised and the oppressed.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 1:49:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/story-of-indomitable-will/article30402168.ece

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