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A saintly dance drama

Here’s a play on the lives of two saints that you can catch next week in both Delhi and NCR.

art and culture Updated: Aug 19, 2011 00:48 IST
Chetna Dua
Chetna Dua
Hindustan Times

Delhi-based production house Katyayani’s latest production, O, is a dance drama depicting the emancipation of women through the centuries. Directed by Sohaila Kapur, the one and a half hour play tells the story of two saints - Rabia, the famous Sufi saint from Iraq, and Karaikkal Ammayar, the Shaivite from Tamil Nadu. Kapur has tried to portray multiple meanings of the title ‘O’ through the lives of these two saints.

“Rabia was the first woman ever to become a Sufi saint. I wanted to do something on women saints and found through my research that Rabia was the one who introduced the concept of love that is synonymous with Sufism today. Before her, the male saints used fear to discipline the followers,” says Kapur.

Ammayar might not be well-known across the world, but she is one of the few women saints with a temple dedicated to her in Karaikkal, a small town of Tamil Nadu. She is still worshiped as a deity there. “There were a lot of similarities between the struggle of these two saints,” says Kapur, describing the reason why she chose them.

As for the cast, while actor Shilpika Bordoloi plays both Rabia and Ammava, Gilles Chuven, French dancer and choreographer, changes character to play the different men in the lives of the two saints. “The interesting thing was that the very men who tried to subjugate and reject them in the beginning actually became their followers in the end,” says Chuven, who has also choreographed the act with Kapur. The mix of Arabic and Carnatic sounds with a voice over in English keeps the production interesting and easy to understand.

Now Showing
What: ‘O’ - a dance drama
When: August 25 at Epicentre, Apparel house, Sector 44, Gurgaon, and, August 27 at India Habitat Centre (IHC), Lodhi Road
Time: IHC — 7pm onwards, Epicentre — 7.30 pm onwards
Tickets: R100, R250, R350, available at the venue or through
Contact: IHC — 011-24682001-5; Epicentre — 0124- 2715000

Nearest Metro Stations: Huda City Centre/ Khan Market on the Yellow line

First Published: Aug 18, 2011 18:53 IST