When Sahitya Akademi Award-winning novelist Krishna Sobti and renowned Hindi theatre company Ank come together, theatre aficionados can be rest assured that they have something thought-provoking to look forward to. Ank, founded by late theatre veteran Dinesh Thakur, is staging Sobti’s most famous work till date, 1966 novel Mitro Marjani, as part of the National Centre for Performing Arts’ (NCPA) third edition of Hindi theatre festival Ananda. The play, which will mark the end of the three-day festival, is an unapologetic portrayal of a married woman who is very vocal about her carnal desires.
The play is about Sumitravanti, better known as Mitro, who hails from an unconventional background (her mother is a free spirit who believes in living life to the fullest and has no qualms about her sexuality). Mitro is married into a conventional Punjabi household. Feeling trapped and suffocated in the straitjacketed role of a woman who is a second class citizen of the household, she craves for her individuality.
Ank’s latest production has several firsts to its credit. The theatre group is not only staging Sobti’s work for the first time but also following a unique pattern in story-telling. Preeta Mathur Thakur of Ank, elaborates, “Since we wanted to portray the richness of Sobti’s use of Hindustani language, we adopted a new format of story-telling. We didn’t adapt the 100-page novel but edited it in such a way that the play had an equal mix of narration and dialogues. The audience can see actors playing the dual roles of narrators as well as their characters. The narration helps viewers to understand the richness of the novel’s ethos as well as the characters’ dilemmas and thought process.”
Mitro Marjani doesn’t have any sets but its Punjabi setting is portrayed through the background music and the characters’ costumes.
Thakur, who plays Mitro, admits that working in the production has been a challenge for her. “Right from the play’s new format to managing the entire cast and crew in Dineshji’s absence to essaying an upfront character, the challenges have been diverse. But it has been a fulfilling experience. After all, life is all about taking chances,” she signs off.
When: Today, 7 pm
Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point