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Dial `L' for life

Rohini Hattangadi's virtuoso performance was one of the many pluses of `Aparajita'



WOMAN POWER Rohini Hattangady in one of the scenes

Aparajita means the undefeated and at the end of the play, one was rooting for the indomitable character as much as for the dazzling performance by Rohini Hattangady. Being on stage for 90 minutes without a break slipping in and out of characters - over 18, calls for a discipline almost akin to penance.

Rohini's Aparajita towered over the audience' sensibilities at the ITC Hotel Kakatiya Sheraton and Towers not because of bombastic lines or operatic situations. Her Aparajita was unconquered by the mediocrity of measuring out her life in coffee spoons. Her story could be the story of any woman - exploited because of her gender by a hegemonic society.

Great expectations

When the play opens, Aparajita is at her brother's house as a glorified governess. She left her husband after discovering his infidelity and has decided to take up a job.

Not having studied much, but with a natural gift for mimicry, Aparajita decides to be a professional actor. She is waiting for a call that would inform her about the job.

As she waits for the all-important call, she tells us about the different incidents that brought her to this stage in life. With a kind of home-spun intelligence, she gives her take on exploitation, the naxal movement, the class divide, railways, crank callers and also the dynamics of family, marriage and in-laws. There is a personal-public take on India and all the diverse elements that go to making us what we are.

Finally when the call comes, Aparajita has to make a moral choice - whether to succumb or to stand firm by her principles.

The play written by Nitin Sen and translated into Hindi by Shayama Jain, according to director Jayadev Hattangady is a look at the "myth of female vulnerability; and to express my deep-rooted belief in the stoic and sometimes the almost non-submissive strength of women."

The minimalist sets and snatches of Vivaldi's music contributed to an ambience that was at once tranquil and edgy. The noted danseuse Vani Ganapathy, who introduced the play said it was fitting that first play of the Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation was staged on June 3, the death anniversary of the doyen of Hindustani theatre.

The event, sponsored by Kalanjali proved that high art can be entertaining, intelligent and cathartic.

MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER

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