‘Isne meri bra utha ke unki balcony mein phenk di and uspe shayari bhi likh di’ - This is a line from Kamala Nehru College’s theatre society Lakshya’s annual stage production ‘Shahira Ke Naam’. “It was over this line and a few words like ‘bra’ and ‘panty’ that we were reportedly disqualified from Mahavidyalaya Natya Samaroh, a theatre competition organised by Sahitya Kala Parishad,” says Radhika Dhawan, president of the society.
“Ours is a play about six college girls who are making their own play in the story. Describing how hostel girls live and the pranks they play on each other, they talk about marking or numbering their underwear so that they don’t get mixed up with others’ underwear,” explains Dhawan, “It is in this scene, among others, that we use words like bra and panty. And this is what the judges apparently didn’t like.”
After the girls performed the play, reportedly an announcement informed them that they had been disqualified. “We thought the judges may have had a problem with the few cuss words in our play. But the anchor of the competition told us that we should have been more careful as using words like these is okay in a girls’ college but not elsewhere,” she says. “One of the judge said to us: ‘ran**, ha**mi, bolne mein koi dikkat nahi hai, you think about what else you’ve said’. Why the shame in using these words (bra/panty) when they’re just undergarments?”
Monami Basu, convener of the soc, says, “You can’t impose your propriety and morals on the students. Would it have been a problem if the word was banyan and not bra or panty? Judges had no problems with lines like ‘ye tera bistar garam karegi’, nor with abuses. If you find something so normal as an underwear titillating, then it is your problem, no one else’s.” she even wrote a Facebook post about it and got support from people.
However, organisers of the competition have a different story to tell. Neha Sharma, the coordinator, says, “The society has not been disqualified, they will only lose marks because they’ve broken the rules about obscenity. Not just words like bra and panty, they’ve used several other cuss words, too,” she says. She adds that other colleges who have used cuss words in their plays will also lose marks.