It’s the 200th show today.. but then Vagina Monologues is more than just a play. It’s a play with a purpose. “It’s a movement.. a firm step to stop any kind of abuse against women,” said Jayati Bhatia, the only artiste in the cast to have performed for all the 199 shows over the span of six years.
To make a bigger impact on their 200th, this all-women’s play will have actor, director, singer Farhan Akhtar and sister Zoya Akhtar reciting a poem. “Director Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal has penned this great piece of writing. It’s called.. In India; girls are meant for burning and boys are all that matter. Zoya and I are going to be reading it today,” says Akhtar.
More than anything, Akhtar said, it’s Mody-Kotwal’s commitment towards the cause that has led him to be a part of Vagina Monologues. The play’s proceeds go to shelter homes for women.
“The content no doubt keeps everybody in the audience on edge, but it’s the heart-wrenching emotions attached to it which prompted me do my bit for this show,” explained Akhtar, who hasn’t done theatre in any professional capacity before. He believes that a cause-driven play with the genius of Eve Ensler’s writings, brings to the forefront ruthless cases like that of Haseena Hussain, who was attacked by acid and rape victims like Aruna Shanbag.
The play, which coincides with the worldwide celebration of the Vagina Month also has Imran Khan and Sandip Soparrkar performing special acts.
Meanwhile the cast, despite, the 200th performance, is still jittery. “There are times, when the audiences are too engrossed to laugh..
Sonali (Sachdev) and I just laugh it off saying, it must be a thinking audience,” says Bhatia.
So far, the cast has had people come to them only with positive feedback and a sense of self-respect. “A lady walked to me and said that there’s such intimacy in the play.. that I can’t help but hug you,” says artiste Sonali Sachdev.
Twists and turns
Despite the serious issues addressed, the play manages to keep its humour intact. “No body will listen if you give a boring, long speech. The reaction has to be evoked through touching stories with witty finishes,” says Avantika Akerkar, who has seen the same faces in the audiences over and over again. “It’s like they discover something new each time they watch it.”
To reach out, director Mody-Kotwal, apart from staging the Hindi version of the play, Kissa Yoni Ka, has so far survived all controversies, and hopes to rake in funds for the cause. Especially in times of women being abused at pubs and with the Pink Chaddi campaign being implemented in the recent past.
“There’s no point in politicising things unnecessarily.. the issue needs attention. And we as a team are dedicated to the cause,” she says.