Dekh Behen preview: A girls night out on stage

Dilshad Edibam Khurana and Tahira Nath Krishnan’s all-women play is a light-hearted take on sisterhood, weddings and relationships

July 29, 2019 01:56 pm | Updated 02:50 pm IST

Akvarious Productions’ Dekh Behen will be staged for the 59th time at The Hindu Theatre Fest 2019. Considering it premièred only last year, it’s safe to assume that the play has struck a chord with audiences. Dilshad Edibam Khurana, one of the two writers of the play and a cast member, says it’s the theatre group’s “fastest running play”. The light-hearted one-act play is set against the backdrop of a rich Punjabi wedding. Five bridesmaids, including the bride’s younger sister, isolate themselves from the wedding chaos and occupy a bedroom and begin chatting. Through this conversation, the play, which will be set entirely inside a room, delves into the psyche of the characters.

Dilshad speaks more about the play.

Excerpts:

The one-room setting sounds unique…

The audience will come to know in the play why it’s set in a room. It’s also because they don’t like the bride so, the room’s like an escape. During the course of the play, you will know that the bridesmaids don’t like the bride. The younger sister is also trying to stay away from the bride and her mother, who’s asking her to work.

How did you set the room on the stage?

There is a bed, a window, a mirror… The furniture is sparse. But we dress it up. We put a flower curtain at the back so it feels like a young girl’s bedroom. There’s also an indication of a door which is at the end of the stage. Characters do go in and out of the room.

In a satirical play, the characters sometimes get caricatured or stereotyped in an attempt to evoke laughter. How do you keep them real?

Two things. One: when we were writing it, we were clear that we didn’t want it to be a ‘bra-burning’, feminist kind of a play because it’s easy to slip into that when it’s an all-women play. Secondly, we wanted to keep it real. We all have a girl gang and we know what kind of conversations happen when we meet. So, it was just going to be an extension of that. We have done over 50 shows and a lot of people have come up to us and said, ‘you are like one of my friends’. There are, of course, some clichés — like we talk about make-up. But nothing is taken too seriously.

Was the all-women crew pre-planned?

The cast was pre-planned. And, the all-women crew was the producer’s idea.

The chemistry between the actors is important for a conversational play. How did the actors bond?

It helped that all of us had worked with each other and a few of us are very close friends, including the directors, Prerna Chawla and Shikha Talsania. We rehearsed for a month. Because the play itself was an extension of a girls’ night out, we had great fun.

Do you try to do something different with each staging?

We try different things during rehearsals. Most of the material is the same. But new jokes might come up during rehearsal. And, if it’s good, we keep it.

And, why did you name it Dekh Behen ?

We thought it can have different interpretations. Dekh Behen is from a meme. Also, ‘behen’ in Hindi is sister. And, the play is about sisterhood. The title is informal and, hence, it fits.

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