For the uninitiated, feminism is a loaded term, often associated with women who are stereotyped as ‘bra-burning feminists’ and labelled ‘ridiculous’ and ‘radical’ in their approach. But feminism is essentially a movement or ideology that aims to define, establish and fight for equal political, economic, and social rights for women. Playwright and director Zubin Driver tries to explore a new facet of this term in his new play Devi by chronicling the lives of four women (played by Dolly Thakore, Heeba Shah, Amanda Monteiro and Freishia Bomanbehram) who get in touch with their inner selves and feel empowered. “I wanted to explore the feminine energy as a male writer. I did it by looking at different aspects through four pieces,” says Driver, a former media professional and founder of Fight Back, an online corporate social responsibility movement that activates youth across the subcontinent to fight for gender equality.
The first piece, Sati, is a post-modernist take on the age-old practice by the same name wherein women immolate themselves. But in this case, Sati (played by Dolly Thakore) descends to Mumbai and challenges her own mythic narrative by not immolating herself. Likewise, Heeba Shah plays a housewife who gets possessed by a goddess and in the process finds a moment of liberation. In the third piece, a woman does a mental striptease to explore the issues that we have with our body image. The last piece titled Flight of the Supreme portrays a flight stewardess who perceives our country as an aeroplane and takes viewers on a magical and dark journey into the idea of an emerging India.
Thakore, who plays Sati, says, “I’m a feminist and an activist. I’m sick of women being made to feel inferior and being told that we can’t raise our voice. My role in the play fits in with my thinking. It was a learning process for me as I don’t subscribe to mythology. So I had to learn a lot about the background of the character. Zubin is a sensitive writer who believes in and portrays women breaking out of their shackles.”
The play boasts of basic props like a table and a chair and has minimal background music. Driver says, “I believe in using the actor’s body as a prop. I hope people will get engaged, entertained and provoked and Devi will be a new experience for them,” he concludes.
When: Today, 7 pm
Where: Experimental Theatre, National Centre for Performing Arts, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point