Birjees Qadar ka Kunba, an Urdu translation and adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s Spanish play ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’ was recently staged by city-based theatre company Sutradhar at NIFT. Written by the Hindi litterateur and Sahitya Academy winner, Late Dr Raghuvir Sahay, the all women saga is a take on the intricacies of a woman’s psyche and her relationship with the other women she is closely associated with. For once, a relatively small production with didn’t boast of any big names saw a good turnout.
The play opens to the mourning scene of matriarch Birjees’ second husband’s death. In the crux of the plot is also the rebellious Aadila, essayed by the relatively new Babli Yadav, the maid Hasan Bandi, played by Deepti Girotra and Mushtari, the middle daughter played by Pallavi Varma. Veteran theatre director Dr Bhaskar Shewalkar plays the role of the senile grandmother Nani Aadila is a very relatable character while Hasan Bandi is an integral part of the family and acts as a catalyst to the plot. She is the confidante, the spy, the philosopher and the mediator between the strict disciplinarian mother and young and aspiring daughter. Mushtari, due to a broken relationship and secret crush towards her sister fiance, shows streaks of homosexuality. Her upbringing and past negative experiences with men have left her in a confused state of mind. Grandma Nani however is a complete contrast to her daughter Birjees. At the age of 80, she yearns of being married, giving birth and living her life all over again. When you look at Dr Shewalkar, one of the senior most theatre persons from the city, enact this role, one is convinced that it was his rendition that was originally visualised for Nani. Dealing with various aspects of female emotions as to how the exclusion or restriction of a man in a woman’s life can lead to an active libido, frustration, anger or how despite sharing a close bond like sisterhood, a situation could make one selfish, jealous and even scheming was delicately brought to light.
By the end of the play, one is forced to think and analyse the character of the matriarch Birjees. Even though she herself had a very normal and fulfilling life with two husbands and five daughters, the question remains as to why she imposes on her daughters and puts them through a straight-jacketed life.
The highlight of the play was undoubtedly the cast where each one of them did complete justice to their characters. With a mix of seasoned theatre actors and new comers, the commendable command over the script and perfect emotions kept the audience glued to their seats.
While the actors did a splendid job with the given script, a shorter and crisper narration would have definitely left a larger impact. Some of the characters could have been put to better use by helping break the monotony of the play. The original script in itself does not have an engaging story line and therefore required the director to be a little more crafty with his script. Nevertheless, Vinay Varma does justice to the women in the play by bringing out the situation and emoting it well.