For the last five days Shivani Wazir Pasrich has been living, breathing and dreaming of Draupadi. And it’s not because she’s obsessed with the Mahabharata, but because her baby, the play Draupadi — We are so different now, opens tonight.
It’s a tale of men and revenge, of women and justice. And while it sounds almost like a Bollywood potboiler, it’s the story of the typical modern woman.
“It took me over two years to write the script,” says Pasrich, a trained Odissi dancer and an ex-model. “It is my visualisation of Draupadi. And while I’ve incorporated inputs from my friends and people I work with, I’d like to think of the play as a fluid story where the characters themselves have added to the tale.”
Directed by South African playwright Tina Johnson, the play is a modern-day take on Draupadi’s life. This epic heroine, played by Pasrich, has two avatars — one of a young woman who has to deal with personal grief and the other of an aging matron. Johnson, who has directed plays on women earlier, believes that Draupadi is like a Greek heroine, who suffers tragedy and comes out stronger.
“Every day women stretch themselves to maintain an equilibrium in their lives — at home, work and at social occasions,” says Pasrich “Draupadi’s life resonates with that struggle.”
The story centres around Maya, played by Charu Shankar, a young modern-day girl who is trying to commit suicide, only to be stopped by the epic heroine from the Mahabharata, Draupadi. Draupadi requests Maya to perform a yagna (prayer) so that she can go to heaven. When Maya fails to do so, her life begins to resemble that of Draupadi. “The story is very intimate with 90 minutes of drama interspersed with heavy dialogues. But the language is simple, almost like how we speak every day,” adds Pasrich.
The play has a worthy cause — the funds raised through the staging will go to Breast Cancer Patients Benefits Foundation.
The play brings together a stellar cast of contributors. Artist Anjolie Ela Menon has designed the backdrops, including the one that depicts the two distinct faces of Draupadi — one dark and emotional and the other young and innocent. Designer Ritu Kumar has captured the same in the cast’s costumes. Yet it’s the resonating soundtrack in the powerful voice of Shubha Mudgal that echoes in your mind even after you leave the theatre.