This weekend, a satire presented in an unworried voice will usher us into the politics of early marriage and gender-consciousness
Bhagyashree Tarke performs on stage during a previous staging of Salma Deewani
What do you call a happy accident? Having balanced multiple deadlines for more than half a dozen years now, this writer identifies happy accidents as stories that lead you to other stories and, more importantly, to other possibilities. Salma Deewani — a play written and performed by Hyderabad-based actor and theatre-maker Bhagyashree Tarke — was born similarly; a happy accident of sorts. Before joining drama school, Tarke was a journalism student. As a young journalist, she wanted to write about single-screen theatres in her city shutting shop.
“While researching, I gathered data that these theatres are fully booked [in advance] before the release of every Salman Khan film. After reading through the data, I realised that a majority of viewers [at these cinemas] are women,” Tarke recounts. This entertainment demographic shaped her acting exercise at the National School of Drama. “It was an assignment where each student was required to put together a 15-minute-long solo act. The first draft of Salma Deewani was written then,” the actor says, reminding us that the satire has evolved over time.
Salma represents anybody from a closed community of women who party every time Khan romances his heroines on screen. The single-screen theatres hold their excitement, but more specifically, their loneliness. About a group of Muslim women hero-worshipping Khan, Tarke shares, “A few of my sources told me that they find him charming. Others said, ‘Woh dil ke achhe hai; logon ki madad karte hain’ [He has a good heart; he helps people].” She elaborates that the protagonist lends voice to the fantasies and struggles of women who have been married off at an early age. Salma’s husband works in a Gulf country while she navigates the challenges of the household. “Her love and admiration for the star is a joyful escape from the daily grind.”
We are curious to know how the drama reaches its resolution. Will Salma ever meet the Bollywood actor? Or will her dreams stay unfulfilled? Leaving us pondering, Tarke mentions that the answers transcend language. She adds that although the play will be performed in Dakhani Hindi, the emotions it addresses are universal.
On: June 10; 8 pm
At: G5A Warehouse, Laxmi Mills Estate, Mahalaxmi West
Log on to: insider.in
Cost: Rs 499