Women’s Voicesby Deepa Gahlot June 21 2019, 10:12 am Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 52 secs
The experiment of staging a selection of monologues worked well in Gujarati. In the first collection of seven short plays-- Saat Teri Ekvees (7X3=21)-- produced by Manhar Gadhia, audiences got to see the work of seven writers, directors and actors.
In Season 3 of the series of monologues, Pratik Gandhi was the solo director of seven short pieces, all with women, and under the broad theme of desire. The success and accolades won by this show, led to a Hindi version titled #Womanologues, that opens it up to a wider audience.
The cheekiest and most charming story is Apeksha, written by Abhinay Banker and starring Ami Trivedi as the eponymous character, who is happily single and working as an interior designer. But she has a younger sister waiting to be married, so she has to agree to an arranged match.
While Apeksha pretends to enjoy classical music and ghazals and even submitted to Bharat Natyam lessons demanded by her father, her guilty secret is that she is a Govinda fan. She rattles of the titles of his films and dances to Ankhiyon se goli maare with such energy that she gets shouts of ‘encore.’
However, she cannot confess her passion for Govinda to her culture-vulture boss or her sophisticated clients. "If I told a client I liked Govinda, in what colour would they picture their wall?" she wonders.
For all her perkiness, Apeksha is still traditional enough to go through the ‘seeing the girl’ ritual, the real urban bombshell is Toral, in Rahul Patel's Toral Joshi Tinder, played by Tusharika Rajguru.
She goes on no-strings-attached Tinder dates, and does not even pretend to be coy—she knows what she wants sexually, and most of her dates do not match her expectations. She consents to marry a guy because he is rich, and also learns to cook his favorite dishes, but when he is unable to satisfy her in bed, she has second thoughts.
Sanjay Chhel’s story, starring Namrata Pathak as Arunima Sinha, is a straightforward inspirational true story about an amputee who climbed Mount Everest. A volleyball player, she was pushed off a train by robbers, and lost a leg. But she decided she would do the impossible and become a mountaineer, with the encouragement of Bachendri Pal (the first woman to conquer Everest) who told her to hold on to her dreams.
Among the other four rather interesting women were a happy, ready-to-mingle divorcee, a female bootlegger, a ‘tiffin’ supplier who never gets a thank you for the meals she cooks with love, till a young man compliments her cooking (which is narrated from the point of view of her daughter), and finally Madhubala. Written by Ketan Mistry, performed by Bhamini Oza Gandhi, this is only story of the submissive, loser-in-love star, that did not quite fit into the group of feisty women, but perhaps deserves a full-length play for all the ups and downs that marked her short life.
With a quick change of simple props and changes of art work on a panel at the back, the atmosphere for the seven stories is created with a minimum of fuss. The format of #Womanologues is such, that pieces can be added, as and when writers are inspired, and more ‘seasons’ put together. The added advantage is that it is relatively easy to travel with a production like this.