Singer-actor Ila Arun adapts Ibsen’s controversial play on women’s empowerment

Ila Arun’s new Hindi play, Peecha Karti Parchayyaiyan, is an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s controversial drama about traditions that continue to bind us

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Apr 24, 2018 14:35 IST
Soma Das
Soma Das
Hindustan Times
Ila Arun,Peechha Karti Parchayyaiyan,Henrik Ibsen
Ila Arun and her co-stars in a still from the play (Photo courtesy: Ila Arun)

When Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote the satirical play, Ghosts, in 1881, it generated a lot of controversy in the European society. The story deals with how women are often suppressed in the name of family traditions. The lead character, a widow named Helene Alving, questions the role of the church. While it was considered bold for its time and panned by critics, it is now acknowledged as an iconic play.

This weekend, actor Ila Arun (60) will stage the Hindi adaptation of the play, titled Peechha Karti Parchayyaiyan. Directed by KK Raina and adapted by Arun, it stars them as the protagonists. Arun plays the role of a former queen and widow, Yashodhara Baisaheb, whose husband dies under mysterious circumstances, while Raina plays the family priest. And even though the family has fallen on hard times, they are reluctant to let go of traditions and lavish lifestyle. “The play shows how old habits don’t change, and linger like a ghost,” says Arun.

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Ila Arun and her co-stars in a still from the play (Photo courtesy: Ila Arun)

While Ibsen’s play questioned the role of the church in suppressing women’s voices, Peecha… criticises the dependence on godmen and priests, who reinforce patriarchal traditions. “Yashodhara Baisaheb questions why well-educated women believe in supernatural elements and visit priests for guidance,” says Arun.

She based Peechha... in Rajasthan, because it’s a state she is familiar with. “I was born and brought up in Rajasthan and have closely observed the society and traditions. Kings and queens are long gone, but their descendants still hold on to age-old beliefs,” she says.

This is Arun’s third adaptation of an Ibsen play. In the past, she has staged The Lady from the Sea and Peer Gynt. “I adore Ibsen’s plays. His women have the courage to come forward, to speak their mind, and fight the system. The plays are relevant even today,” she says.

Peechha Karti Parchayyaiyan will be staged on April 9, 7pm
At NCPA, Nariman Point
Tickets:Rs 300 onward on
Call 6622 3737

First Published: Apr 06, 2017 00:00 IST