Theatre

Art that awakens

GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN Mona Ambegaonkar  

Having acted in films such as Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, White Noise, Mrityudand and Phir Bhi Dil Hain Hindustani, one would expect actor Mona Ambegaonkar to say that she is choosy with roles. Right? Wrong. She clearly tells me over phone: “Even actors have to pay bills, EMIs and house rents. So, I look at the quality of the script and my pockets, whichever one wins the race, wins the race.”

“My lookout is not what other people write or produce, but what I bring to my role,” says Mona, who worked as chief assistant director for Mr. India and has performed with theatre groups such as Ekjut, Ansh, Fottsbarn Theatre Company in France and the Ton Und Kirshen Theatre Company in Germany.

Mona recently performed late Chetan Datar’s play Ek Madhav Baug at Atta Galatta and Jaaga. Written from the perspective of a mother who tries to come to terms with her son being gay, Ek Madhav Baug is powerful not only for the sensitive portrayal of homosexuality, but also the touching depiction of a mother-son relationship. The script was enhanced by Mona’s depiction of the characters.

Mona has been performing the play for three years at venues ranging from schools to cultural centres, mainly in Mumbai. When asked how she relates to the script, Mona says that it is impossible to describe the experience in words. “I doubt any artiste will be able to explain how he engages with their work.”

The responses that she has received have been both moving and disturbing. “There were many who found the courage to tell their stories. At one performance, a mother who couldn’t accept her daughter’s sexuality, stood up at the end of the play and said she was proud of her child.” There were instances, though, when Mona met with resistance, some of which happened in well-known schools.

Mona says that the plot is a human story that will resonate with anyone who has been discriminated against. “It espouses equality, of allowing people to be what they want to be, and not judging them.” Is she, then, against categorising people into definite groups? “No, I am not,” she says and continues, “Categorising is important for identification. I am sure a girl would want to be called a girl and a boy, a boy. The LGBT community is proud of their identity. I only have a problem with considering one group lesser than others.”

Art, Mona says, creates social awareness. “Artists have aesthetically articulated issues. Theatre has pioneered social awareness and change. I am very happy to see so much passion for the performing arts despite there being hardly any funding for it.”


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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 10:59:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/art-that-awakens/article4188190.ece

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