Theatre

Absorbing play

A scene from the play 'Being Eunuch'.

A scene from the play 'Being Eunuch'.  

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Nishumbita, a theatre group run by Holagundi Rammohan in Hyderabad is known for producing Hindi, English and Telugu plays - all high standard productions that draw audience in considerable numbers. Generally they pick novel themes with a social purpose. This time they chose a bold theme of Transgenders , ending with a plea to make place for them in society. How a person with certain traits gets converted into this ‘third gender’ and the problems that arise among them are tackled in the play ‘Being Eunuch’. Scripted in Hyderabadi Hindi with a mix of Urdu, it was staged at Ravindra Bharati last week.

The story is woven around a group of transgenders (eunuchs) in an Akhara, led by Shanno Naik who is also addressed as ‘Amma’. Their names are peculiar like Bijli, Katrina, Preeti, Rani, Chenni, Chameli and so on - all with individualistic traits.

Transgenders pray to Goddess Yellamma, a form of Lord Siva’s consort and get symbolically married to Iravana, a minor character from the Mahabharata, considered as Arjuna’s son. He sacrifices life for the sake of his father, but only after he requests that be married and spend a night with his spouse before his death. To grant him the boon, Lord Krishna transforms into a woman and marries Iravana. Thus, this woman who was nothing but Krishna’s assumed female form became a role model for transgenders. This tradition of getting married to a symbolic Iravana still continues.

Now conflicts among them to gain control of the groups commence. Aggressive Shanno Naik wants to lead the group called Chelans. They even have methods they believe will give them ‘Mukti’ from life. A boy named Bansi gets attracted to this community and becomes Chelan (disciple) of Laccho Naik to get changed into a transgender. But Preeti, another Chelan, realising pain involved in the process warns him, as he is about to enter hell. But Bansi is insistent.. Laccho Naik has different plans — he wants to give Bansi in marriage to a Seth after this conversion.

Bansi undergoes the process, loses his masculinity and is renamed as Mona. Laccho arranges marriage of Mona with that Seth and makes money. The marriage does not last and Mona is on streets, struggling to make a living. After some tribulations in the Akhara, Laccho leaves the place with Mona and a few other Chelans. Mona eventually becomes a teacher and turns the others into professionals in fashion designing, painting, tailoring, and making a plea with society to accept them as equals.

The three-act show running for two hours was directed by Holagundi Rammohan. Kesav Deepak as Shanno Naik, Firoz as Bijli, Krishna Khumbar as Preeti and Sanjeev Kumar as Mona gave outstanding performances. Scenes for relief featuring Vikram, Nitish, Nikhil, Preetam and Uday were cameos. Kesav Deepak displayed improvisational skills and body language. Firoz as Bijli deserved compliments. Performance by Sanjeev Kumar in multiple roles of Mona, Bansi and Rani was praiseworthy. Costumes and set design were all symbolic.



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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 12:06:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/absorbing-play/article3657432.ece

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