An unspoken bitter truth
The solo play "Bitter Chocolate", featuring Lushin Dubey and directed by Arvind Gaur, brings to the stage shocking stories of child abuse.
CHILDHOOD TRAUMAS sometimes haunt one for life. Rejection by adults, taunts from the loved ones, neglect, rebuffs and many more such reasons remain as cankers. A tormented childhood leads to a damaged adult, scarred forever. And nothing is more disfiguring than child sexual abuse. Child abuse has nothing to do with class, race or religious barriers. It is rampant in all sections of the society and is often brushed under the carpet for fear of scandal from this very society.
In an attempt to bring to light the truths related to child abuse, theatre director Arvind Gaur and well-known actress Lushin Dubey have got together to present "Bitter Chocolate", based on Pinki Virani's bestselling book that focuses on child sexual abuse cases in India.
Gaur, who has also scripted the play, has made use of multimedia effects in the production, which will be staged at the India Habitat Centre on April 24. Two film screens will show scenes featuring Lushin simultaneously as she acts on stage. "There's going to be a certain amount of interaction between the actress on stage and the film in the background," says Gaur.
For the 55-minute presentation, Lushin and Gaur have chosen six shocking real-life cases from across India out of the many from the book. "We decided to work through perspectives to deal with the highly sensitive issue. We will be showing what happens through the perspective of the mother, the inspector, the lawyer or anyone connected with the victim," explains Lushin.
Gaur points out, "The play doesn't have any music, but instead a little bit of song is added along with some hymns and alaaps in the background, which is done by Sangeeta Gaur." One of the six stories taken by Gaur is an incident that happened in Allahabad, where a father rapes his 14-year-old daughter, and when her mother files a case against her husband, instead of supporting the lady, the society tries to discourage her and tries to convince her to withdraw the case. Attacking the mother, a social worker says, "This is an inhumane approach, and she should not go against her husband. It was just a way of expressing love for his daughter. The father did not do it intentionally."
The second case is of two sisters, one of whom is intelligent and the other weak in studies. In this case it is the uncle of the children who abuses the weak child.
While the third case is where the police tries to convince the victim and her parents to forget everything and not to file a case. Another case is of five gurus in Mumbai. One of the gurus, Otto, abuses 40-50 children in the name of meditation. After many cases were filed against Otto, the lawyer and the police managed to convince the parents of the victims to withdraw the case, due to which the guru managed to get bail.
"The play has travelled to over 24 places like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi to name a few. Now it will go to Kolkata. Everywhere after the screening, there has been a panel discussion, which has helped us to know what the audience thinks. The language used in the play is according to the class and characters. Our main target audience are the college students and upper class people. So far it has been a hit in the rural and urban areas of the country," says Gaur.
The proceeds from ticket sales at the India Habitat Centre show will go to Butterflies, an NGO that works for the betterment of street and working children.
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