Should we tackle the sinner or the sin? New play Bhasmasur will make you wonder
The gods got together to end the sinner in the Puranas. Instead, should the sin be tackled? A new play wonders...
Nishant Karki and Abhijit Thakur during the rehearsal of Bhasmasur in Bandra. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Nearly four months into the rehearsals for his play, and it's only recently that Sachin Jain, Hindi editor of Gaylaxy and core member of Gay Bombay, realised that Bhasmasur is, in fact, based on his own experience of growing up as an LGBT person and then joining the family business in his earlier avatar as a software engineer.
Vrushankh Raghatate, the play's choreographer also plays the role of Lord Shiva
Bhasmasur - a 90-minute play that Jain has written and directed - moves through two parallel stories. One is about the mythological character from the Puranas who seeks a boon from Lord Shiva that allows him to turn anything that he touches into ash. The other, is a contemporary setting in which a young, gay man finds himself the victim of sexual harassment when he joins his father's office as an intern. As Jain narrates the story at his Bandra West apartment where the cast has been reading through the script, there's a sense that the man (Mohit, played by Nishant Karki) is a victim of both - distance from the father (Adi) and a general sense of alienation from society that doesn't allow him to freely express his identity, leaving him susceptible to harassment.
For Sachin Jain, writing the play became a way to achieve closure on emotions he'd bottled up for years
"I have seen first hand how patriarchy works. There were male employees at the family business who knew who I was and would often disparage me and succeed," says Jain, adding that he didn't even realise that he'd bottled up the emotions that for 13 years. "Through this play I have let it all out and got closure."
As they read the lines of a scene that shows sexual manipulation, there's a shiver that runs up your spine. Abhijit Thakur, who plays Bhasmasur in the mythological stream and Bhaskar - a 30-year-old man at Adi's office who only wants that his hard work lets him climb the social and financial ladders unavailable to him in childhood - in the modern, corporate setting, represents evil. But, Jain wonders out aloud in the play, "should we kill the sinner or the sin?"
The sinner is the homophobic man, the sin is homophobia. Jain who teaches 16 and 17-year-olds finds that kids today, as he did when he was growing up, have few LGBT role models. "There's a vacuum. We didn't have answers to questions like how do we act, love, what is our family. Do families of choice count?" The play has a solution, but it would be a spoiler to mention it here.
What one can mention is that the Bhasmasur - the play is open only to those 18 years old and above - line of the story is portrayed through dance, choreographed by Vrushankh Raghatate. There's bharatanatyam, kalaripayattu and aerial silk to look forward to.
When: March 25, 7 pm
Where: Sathaye College Auditorium, Dixit Road, Vile Parle East
Entry: Free, but there's a suggested contribution of `500 to compensate the actors
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