I am a writer of miniscule fame – so I feel a whole lot indebited to the writers of the world who took it upon themselves to write something bold. I also look upto people who actually bestow the success of their plays on the strength of the writers art… Ismat Aapa ke Naam started on a high note : Nasseruddin Shah followed by his humbleness walked onto the stage and lit it up by his sheer presense. Being introduced to the writer, her eccentricities and her maverick nature helped in understanding why these “Women” centric themes were chosen : ‘Chui Mui’, ‘Gharwali’ and ‘Mughal Bacha’
Chui Mui.. a par synthesis of life of two pregnant women on board a train. One woman who was travelling with her entourage, her only aim is being a trophy wife, who would bare a male child or two for her muslim husband. She particularly doesn’t feel for a child , as her ulterior motive is to keep her husband to herself and bar him from a second male child bearing marriage. The other is a beggar sweeper woman who boards the train while in labour. Gives birth to her child and celebrates life and all its nuances. She knows where she is from and where she has to go despite not owning anything of this world. And the other is caught between the social fabric of people stuck in between of not having and wanting more..Narrated by Heeba Shah.. who obviously has the acting gene – who wouldn’t if your father is Nasseruddin Shah. But sharing stage with 2 other veterans can also sometime call for his own share of criticisim. You get instantly compared to the other acts – Chui Mui is the marathon runner who crosses the finish line in the Nth position.. but finishes none the less.
Mughal Bachha narrated by Ratna Pathak Shah was easily the best of the 3.. It instantly took me to a time when I was still young and my grand mother sat on her chair with her knitting needles and tried putting me to sleep. I would keep asking her to repeat the same story over and over again.. Gori Bi is wife of Kaalyen Miyaan who is the inheritor of a dying Mughal king and his empire. With funds depleting and the estate being reduced to the ground, the only thing that remains is the EGO of a rich child. Kaalyen Miyaan marries Gori Bi but with a condition that she will lift her own veil. And Gori Bi only wished her Miyaan would lift it off her first … and there goes a life time of “No, You First…” until Gori Bi lifts her veil to see that Kaalyein Miyaan had breathed his last breath.. ! Ratna Pathak Shah is such a colourful actress.. lifting her eyebrows when playing Gori Bi.. enjoying paan when playing Kaalyen Miyaan.. she connected with the audience like no one else did. As if the narrative was between her and I… oh, so comforting the experience that I could only see myself tugging at her and saying… “pls.. once more”.. “no, im not going to sleep just yet”… “tell me one more time.. !”
Gharwali narrated by Nasseruddin Shah was like the last smooth rich layer of Cheese Cake… Glazed with years and years of acting.. yet rich in texts. Lajjo is our everyday maid with one eye to the work and the other at the wealth of Mirza an um-married small time businessman who was happy that he was well taken care off.. during the day and during the night. Lajjo with no other kith and kiln was happy to dole out love to her employer who one fine day proposed her for marriage. Up until they got married Lajjo was a forbidden fruit. And all Mirza could think of was how to tame her… And when he finally triumpahed he realised she was no longer in her element. She was unhappy … and this made him unhappy… until one day they went back to their old ways of being an employer and employee… and that’s when Mirza realised… she is best as a forbidden fruit that he craves.
Music by Vishal Bhardwaj is used more as a cue for the narrator-actors than just a background effect. The music is simple and basic but beautiful to hear nevertheless. The set design by Salim Arif and Jairaj Patil is kept to the minimal. The lighting by Michael Nazareth changes as the tone of the play does. It creates the right ambience at the right time. In short this production is a must watch for all those who love to see the dramatization of sensitive and intelligent stories.