The third gender on stage
Pune-based group Aakanksha Rangbhoomi will be showcasing their take on gender in India in the form of a play, titled Hijada. Performed in the student city last year, Saggherr Loadhi, the director has juxtaposed India's reified transgendered community i.e., Hijras with two individuals from the 'mainstream' society.
A still from the staging of the play, Hijada
The idea triggered, says Loadhi, when he witnessed a friend undergoing the 'nirvan' (castration) process in the Hijra community. Curious, Loadhi was compelled to undertake a rigorous approach to learn about the structure, the legal registration and the seven gharanas of the community. Intrigued, Loadhi dramatised the lives of two protagonists — Kiran and Dimple.
He shares, "I thought of challenging my friend’s journey with another plot referring to a homosexual person who maybe, is a transgender and wished to also explore the woman in his mind but may not necessarily have reached the same conclusion as my transgender friend. I wanted this second plot to represent a person, who wants to try out and challenge the notions of manhood, womanhood and also in circumstances that go beyond these labels."
After rehearsing for two months and working on the cast’s body language, voice, movement and dance, the play was performed. Loadhi has also achieved the unusual feat of enabling a transgender to be a part of his play. The director admits facing threats and censure from the Hijra community on various counts such as not seeking their permission for the play, showing them using abusive language as well as focussing on their rituals and ceremonies.
Loadhi replies to this with an anecdote, "During the first show of our play at Bharat Natya Madir, there were a few Hijras who had come to protest. After the show, they began cursing us. An old lady from the audience, went up to them and said that she liked the play a lot and has respect and great sympathy for them. She asked them whether they liked the play . Those hijaras smiled and offered her a cup of tea. My team and I happened to witness this from far. We too just smiled."
Hijra gharanas: Bhendibajarwala, Bullakwala, Lalanwala, Lakhnauwala, Poonawala, Dehliwala, and Hadir Ibrahimwala.
ON July 10, 6.30 pm
AT NCPA, Nariman Point.