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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

We must allow boys to voice sexual abuse: Poorna Jagannathan

Actor Poorna Jagannathan talks about her latest theatre production on sexual violence against boys and how the issue doesn’t even receive acknowledgement.

art-and-culture Updated: Nov 15, 2014 12:41 IST
Subuhi Parvez
Subuhi Parvez
Hindustan Times

The quirky actor that you remember from Delhi Belly is making waves with her out-of-the-box plays in metro cities. Last year, Poorna Jagannathan gave us goosebumps with her powerful acting prowess in Nirbhaya - which was based on the December 16 incident, and this time around, she’s back with a one-man show based on sexual violence against boys — a topic which is rarely spoken about.

"Once we start allowing boys a voice on this topic, once we legally acknowledge that it is possible for men to be victims as well, only then might we start to see the true shifts in the mindset we need to solve sexual violence," she says.

"Nirbhaya play, was born out of this insight - that we must break the silence in order to break the cycle of violence. But I never imagined silence as a luxury. The epidemic of violence against boys doesn’t even receive acknowledgement, let alone silence. The statistics are staggering: 1 in 2 boys in India are sexually abused. You may ask "What does this even mean?" It means that 1 out of 2 boys have experienced an unwanted sexual interaction - whether once or ongoing."

There are two plays — The Tricky Part and All The Rage — which are to be performed by American actor Martin Moran.

"When I first saw these plays, I knew I was witnessing something that would change my life. Marty’s honesty, simplicity and humour about his experience brought me and the audience to our knees — everyone was in a deep dialogue with themselves."

Talking about the reach out, Jagannathan feels Bollywood's support is essential and the industry is always happy to help.

"Sexual violence affects everyone. And of course, having Bollywood involved in trying to bring awareness to sexual violence is critical. Many Bollywood friends came together to make this play happen like producer Guneet Monga from Phantom and Caleb Franklin from CAA. For Nirbhaya, Ranbir Kapoor was one of the first to help with the financing. So there are a lot of people from the industry who want to see change happen," she says.

American actor Martin Moran during a performance

It is important to speak about the unspoken and demand change, she believes. The plays are an attempt to question the authority and a hope to start a conversation on sexual abuse against boys.

The solo act will jolt you down but not give you the creeps. There's a mix of humour and darkness in it. “Our Mumbai shows were sold out and audiences were surprised across the board: they expected a very dark play but Martin uses humour to go into dark territory."

Poorna is busy touring with her play Nirbhaya, and is beginning two theater projects by March of next year.

WHAT: One-Man show
WHERE: India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road
WHEN: November 15, 16
TIMINGS: 7pm onwards
NEAREST METRO STATION: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Violet Line

(Photo credit: Amyn Hooda)

First Published: Nov 15, 2014 12:21 IST

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