Theatre - Fest

Citizens review 'Aurat! Aurat! Aurat!': A delightful play

Turn the tables

Aurat! Aurat! Aurat! interweaves Ismat Chughtai’s writings with her life, the biography a framing device that helps the viewer understand her gender politics. All acts, including the opening guide to Chughtai’s life, are beautifully framed by Faiz’ ghazals. The train sequences are elegantly carried out with minimal props and great acting chops. Through the various episodes, we get glimpses of female life across class boundaries. Being born female is the greatest uniting force for the women in the play. Shruti Vyas stands out with her ability to morph back and forth between characters. At least in the subversive world of the play, it is the men who stand behind curtains and who are allowed to speak only at the behest of women.

Rashmi Ramachandran,Indiranagar

A witty look at gender politics

This delightful play by Motley takes us on a journey of what it means to be a woman in twentieth century India. Of how a woman’s wants and desires must be legitimised by the patriarchy and how her rebellion itself succeeds, when it is enacted with the indulgence (or apathy!) of her fathers and husbands.

Nevertheless, her gently teasing voice is heard louder than the cacophony of fetters and shackles of her bondage. Her unschooled feminism reveals to her the irony of her position and she realises that she can manipulate just as easily as she can be manipulated!

The stand-out pieces are the two train journeys embarked upon by Ismat Aapa in her student days, when she discovers how to conduct herself in a world of young men and how to deal with the obsession of the women of her times with marriage as the goal of a woman’s life. And then there are the comments on how men can either idolise or patronise women but never treat them as equal companions.

The poignant solo piece end that depicts the sorrow and disappointment felt at the birth of a girl makes one squirm, as it is still true in contemporary India! The highlight of the play was the amazing performance of Shruti Vyas who truly brought Ismat Aapa’s mischievous social commentary to life.

Sujata Puranik,Indiranagar

Perception and evolution

Any depiction of Ismat Chughtai’s life and works will certainly resonate with thoughts on the status of women, her views on men and women, men’s perception of women etc. The relevance of these ideas in the present times needs no emphasis and this play which is based on a part of her autobiography and three other stories written by her is no different. The play has been brilliantly brought to life by all the five actors who have played Ismat at different points as well as portrayed other characters but Seema Pahwa, Trishla Patel and Shruti Vyas were particularly outstanding.

The use of props and set creation, though minimal, was apt and just right. Despite the dialogues being in chaste Hindustani, the humour was not lost on the audience eventhough everything may not have been comprehended completely, as hinted by one of the actors! The use of Faiz’s and Kaifi Azmi’s couplets added to the content’s richness. What had been written about 80 years ago and was blasphemous at the time is not shocking any more.

One did walk out with the message from the writer: we haven’t evolved much!

Sunanda R,JP Nagar

An excellent accomplishment

Ismat Chughtai and my grandmother both had too many siblings, an unabashed affinity for dirty jokes, and the uncanny talent to craft emotions. The performance convinced me that Chughtai is to her readers what my grandmother is to me— an unshakable personality too close to the heart. The actors cared to wipe off imaginary droplets of tea running down the spout of a teapot after a pour. So never mind the microphone eating up a few pieces of dialogue, or the bits of unsynchronised projections. I admire the director’s decision to leave the stage curtains undrawn. Off with the “parda”.

Sadish Dhakal,HMT Layout

Enduring words

Ismat Chughtai was revelant many years ago and is relevant today. Her clarity of thought regarding the fight for equality and sharp sense of wit is seen across the play. Despite the most difficult circumstances she doesn't forget to laugh at her situations and humour adds a touch of irony and sarcasm to what otherwise would be very grim circumstances. She stresses on the importance for education for women and the fact that to be treated equally, that is a foremost criteria which holds relevance in today's world, an educated and socially aware woman can create a niche for herself. She highlights the aspect of a woman earning fame and respect doesn't mean that she will compete or diminish the respect of men around her. The fight for feminists may have changed paths, but the power of Ismat Apa's words and her stories hold true even today.

Ruam Mukherjee,St Thomas Town

Rashmi Ramachandran gets a meal for two at Taj, MG Road.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 4:57:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/theatre-fest/citizens-review-aurat-aurat-aurat-a-delightful-play/article24807761.ece

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