Friday, May 03, 2013

हमिदाबाईची कोठी

A cold chill went down my spine when the announcer proclaimed that this is going to be a 3-act play. It was close to 10 in the night already, I had to wake up early the next morning and drive 300 kilometres. So this better be good i said. And good it was. 

इंतजार का नाम हि जीवन है बेटी. किसी को पैसे का इंतजार किसीको मोहोब्बत का, तो किसीको मौत का इंतजार. Hamidabai was played by Neena Kulkarni (I am told it was originally played by Vijaya Mehta). She is a तवाइफ़ (courtesan) who is way past her prime. An idealist of sorts who will not adapt to the changing times, nor will allow others to do so. She thinks it is "cheating" to sing and dance to Filmi songs but when asked by her daughter शब्बो (played by Manwa Naik, and originally by Neena Kulkarni herself) if not paying the बनिया is also cheating, she just laments about hard times and avoids the question. It is ok to cheat the grocer but not the teacher. But cheating is cheating. Unfortunately this is a highly acceptable form of double standards in our society. Somehow we think that someone who works to earn money is less respectable than someone who does 'selfless' work.

मेरी अपनी जबान ही नहीं हैं। जिस के साथ बात हैं उसकी जबान ले लेता हूँ। माँ बाप अपने बच्चे को कुछ दे न दे। जबान तो देनी चाहिए ना? सत्तार is played superbly by Jitendra Joshi. An orphan who works as a pimp but aspires to work a more respectable profession and settle down with the love of his life. He hates his life's circumstances but is powerless to change them. We are always taught that we can be whatever we want to be. This character shows just how hard that can be.

मी लग्न संसारासाठी नाही संरक्षणासाठी केलंय. After marrying the local gunda शब्बो tells this quite frankly to her white-collared lover (who is too scared to marry her because she is a daughter of a courtesan). Here is one more character which fails to change her life's circumstances. But in her case it is perhaps due to her own stubbornness. She is not willing to leave or sell the Kothi which is the last memory of her mother, even at the cost of marrying a brute who she does not love. Why people give more importance to the memory/expectations of dead people, even more than their own dear life, is beyond me.

As it is obvious i was more interested in the characters than the plot. Perhaps because a plot where idealist clash with the opportunist is not very relevant today. It is a hangover of a by-gone era. We are all opportunists now :D

Spoiler Alert: After the first act was over i casually remarked that all women characters in this play are going to die one by one. And so they did. I wonder if the writer was trying to say something with this..



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