Comic punches depict brutality

Last Updated 12 March 2013, 13:48 IST

The audiences knew that spreading a social message was the agenda of Jug Jug Jiyo - a play, but hearing a political speech was definitely a surprise!

For who would have thought that a normal play would have Krishna Tirath, minister for Women and Child Development, take to the stage and deliver a well-rehearsed speech while inaugurating Smita Bharti’s latest play.

As the play begins, a young couple, obviously in love, are seen dancing before they get into an argument because Sia, the girl is pregnant but Siraj - her boyfriend wants her to conceal the truth. Their verbal skirmish turns serious when their mothers join in and the audience realises that Sia and Siraj are childhood sweethearts and their widowed mothers live under the same roof.

Jug... though, is not about Siraj and Sia but Simran and Sanyukta (Dolly Ahluwalia and Swaroopa Ghosh respectively. Remember them from Vicky Donor) and it is their story which unfolds the truth behind their ‘dead’ husbands. Both have kept their past away from their children, for whom the fathers have been role models.

But when truth is revealed, the light tones of the initial act soon turn melodramatic and then tragic. While in places, the comic scenes work brilliantly, there are times when the comedy seems forced. But the unravelling plot shows the widows questioning societal norms, probing the issues of female-foeticide, marital rape and gender biases.

Though the plot has several twists and turns (trying to focus as it does on several contemporary issues demanding attention) it also keeps you glued, as certain moments do make you think. Take for instance, Simran’s monologue, as she recalls the nights of horror and violence that she was subjected to, post several abortions because the foetus was a female. Dolly, a gold medallist from NSD in acting, took the audience’s connection with Simran to another level as she narrated the physical trauma of sexual harassment on each of the 10 nights that she was forced to abort!

Then there is this particular scene where Sanyukta is singing in Bengali while Sia observes her from the far end of the stage. The angst and the bitterness that Sia is feeling at being cheated is well-executed. Rachit Behl, who plays Siraj deserves a special mention too, for it is he, who with his natural flair for acting, ably conveys that he is disliking every minute of being stuck in a female-only household. With impeccable sense of comic timing Rachit certainly carries his parts well. 

Despite the absence of dramatic devices, the play doesn’t seem to have lost out. “I purposely wanted to keep the devices out and language colloquial so that the audiences could relate to what is happening in their homes and yet the issue is not treated seriously,” shares Smita, who feels that intellectualising the play would have taken it away from reality.

(Published 12 March 2013, 13:40 IST)

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