Us versus them
A one-act play explores gay romance against the backdrop of 1993's Hindu-Muslim riots
Three years ago, Navaldeep Singh, flipping through channels on his television saw two things that immediately caught his attention. On a news channel, the top of the screen flashed a debate on the Ram Mandir case while the bottom displayed another debate on section 377. And he knew he wanted to translate the material into a play. After two years of research, the idea materialised into Javeda, a one-act play about gay romance against the backdrop of the 1992-93 Hindu-Muslim riots. After travelling to Bengaluru, Delhi and Pune, the skit comes to Mumbai today at Prabhadevi's Ravindra Natya Mandir.
Written and directed by Singh, Javeda, which means eternal in Urdu, is the story of Aman Awasthi and Iman Kaazi, two men in their late twenties sharing a flat. But it's largely about love, in its many forms. As it gets rarer to find true love, Singh says, "There's this dialogue in the play that says, 'Mohabbat jism dekh kar nahin, jasbat dekh kar ki jaati hai.' Our initial concerns arose from the fact that the entire team is under 25 and we were worried about how people would respond to a young group. But the response has been amazing. Viewers have told me that it has changed the way they think."
But you not only see their physical presence on stage but the representation of their souls, too. The cast features Ahan Nirban as Iman while Aman's character is played by Aaryan Deshpande, the grandson of late legendary Marathi writer PL Deshpande. "Aman Awasthi isn't just a character for me anymore. He is a guy I aspire to be because of his free-spirited nature and ability to express [his emotions]," Deshpande says, adding, "As artistes, I feel it's our job to help build audience perspective. It's a huge responsibility that we carry on our shoulders... Love is pure and that's what I want the audience to know."
ON Today, 8.30 pm onwards
AT Ravindra Natya Mandir, Ground Floor, near Siddhivinayak Temple, Sayani Road, Prabhadevi.
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COST Rs 249
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