| Photography by Grace M Sukanya | Written by Mallika Shah |
Everyday objects litter the stage of Aagaaz Theatre Trust’s Bhagi Hui Ladkiyan. There are chappals, shampoo bottles, an istri, sanitary pads, a jhaadu, hair accessories, pots, pans, dustbins, buckets — just really ordinary, mundane things that occupy the homes of its performers.
Jasmine, Nagma, Nagina, and Zainab are young women from Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. When the performers began devising the play with their director Dhwani Vij, she asked them to bring the things they use everyday to the rehearsal room.
The primary spectrum of colours in the play was derived from a prompt that Vij supplied to the performers: “What colours do you see the most around you?”
So it follows that the green of the Nizamuddin Dargah, the white of the girls’ uniforms, and the black of burqas, form the colour palette for Bhagi Hui Ladkiyan.
When the play began its prep to leave the rehearsal room and enter stage, the team had to replace non-green objects brought from home with their green counterparts in order to maintain cohesion.
The objects are arranged on stage to create boundaries that represent and distinguish between the inside space (of the home) and the outside (the basti). The beginning is contained inside the carefully laid out boundary, but things, feelings, and life will always spill out.
With each performance, Bhagi Hui Ladkiyan adapts and changes itself. The stories are different every time to reflect how they make the performer feel as a teller of the story, and as a listener.
The play explores multiple layers of perception and gaze — the performers tell the audience real stories of how the world sees them, they talk about how they gaze at the world around them; the audience by virtue of being an audience bears witness to the performers — all of which is enabled by the girls’ continual examination of themselves within the world.
The objects in the play are more than just things. Their presence is compelling. And their ordinariness is significant as a reflection of the perceived ordinariness of girlhood and womanhood.
Catch Bhagi Hui Ladkiyan on December 16th and 18th at Bipin Chandra Pal Auditorium, C. R Park, New Delhi at 7.30 pm.
Tickets available at: https://in.bookmyshow.com/plays/bhagi-hui-ladkiyan/ET00346125
Mallika is an actor, playwright and theatre-maker based in Mumbai. Her interests lie in the mundane, in rebellion, pop and youth culture, in the relationship between macro and microscopic systems, love, and just about everything else.