Last year I'd the privilege to watch Faezeh Jalali's play 07/07/07 at NCPA's Experimental Theatre. Instantly I became a big fan of Jalali's work. Her unique approach towards social and gender issues creates space for the audience to reflect and feel all sorts of emotions watching her play. I got an opportunity to watch her recent play, Shikhandi - its a story about the in-betweens. Though am not familiar with details of Mahabharata and Ramayana I knew Jalali had a story to tell beyond narrating these epic stories.
Experimental theatre is my one of my favourite theatres - the other being Prithvi theatre - a place I've been frequenting since college days. I was glad to book a front row (AA) because the director was using every space of the theatre balcony, side stairways, used theatrical rigging system (bringing actors to the stage - to create a scene of God comes down to the Earth) and all corners of the theatre. The location of the NCPA is awesome, the cool breeze from Arabian sea and seating on Marine Lines licking Rustom's ice cream after the show (especially in Mumbai's humid summer at 40 degree Celcius) is another attraction.
As the play began I couldn't stop laughing and admiring the way contemporary issues and politics in nicely embedded in small doses that is tongue-in-cheek way of creating the story of Shikhandi. Shikhandi is perhaps one of the earliest trans-characters known in mythology - don't ask me about histories - and this character apparently played a key role in winning the battle of Kurukshetra for the Pandavas. Don't get carried away with this mythological stories - and don't get upset if like me you don't know anything about Pandavas or who was Bhima.
Director Jalali in a comic and sarcastic way uses her protagonists to explain the characters! I thought it was brilliantly done. She has put together an amazing show using every actors that is both impressive and intellectually provides a teaser to the social issues - be it birth of a girl child, marriage, current socio-political scenario, gender and sexuality and wars or conflicts.
I was mesmerized by excellent lighting design and the costume and hairstyle enhances the show with minimalistic yet beautiful. I think the live music added the charm of the play.
If you get a chance to see this play, don't miss it! Unfortunately, this play will be relevant even after five decades - though you wish humans begin appreciating equality and gender rights, its a wish after all.