“Hello Farmaaish”, which was presented by Dur Se Brothers under the auspices of Aadyam Theatre at Kamani auditorium recently, is a remarkably innovative theatrical piece both in terms of its form and content. A blend of fantasy and stark realism, this Hindi play offers the audience moments of fun, pathos, angst, hope and excitement.
The script in English is jointly written by Sneh Sapru and Yuki Ellias. And it has been adapted in Hindi by Vidit Tripathi, Yuki Ellias and Sneh Sapru. The thematic idea of the play is ingeniously conceptualised, bringing to life community radio operated by women. In fact, these women are engaged by a NGO which makes teddy bear.
The play is directed by Yuki Ellias who has studied theatre at the Jaques Lecoq International School for theatre in Paris and London International School of Performing Arts. Delhi theatre-goers have the opportunity to see her “Elephant in the Room” which was featured at Mahendra Excellence in Theatre Festival as a solo piece which bore the stamp of her creativity marked by intricate and rich imagery.
The highlight of “Hello Farmaaish” is its thematic core that is inspired by Haryana-born Kalpana Chawla who took her first trip to space in 1997 in a space shuttle Columbia Flight. After 26 successful missions to space, the shuttle met with a disaster and none of the astronauts on board survived including Kalpana.
As these women as radio anchors describe the exciting odyssey to space being undertaken by Kalpana Chawla, we watch a complete transformation of these women. They describe their journey into space where twinkling stars create a magical space much beyond the imagination of humanity.
Critique of patriarchy
But these women cannot remain forever in the fantasy space for long. They have to listen and answer to their listeners who often ask humiliating questions and have to face NGO functionaries who are interested in making teddy bear. They have also to confront the male head of the radio station. These confrontations are enacted with a light touch which amuses the audience. We also get some glimpses of the life of these women.
We watch a senior woman who seems to be in an advanced stage of pregnancy. When she goes home after day’s hard work, she has to face her angry mother-in-law. TThese women truly live these magical moments and communicate to their listeners their other worldly fantasy with thrilling intensity. In this way, they transport themselves as well as their listeners to a space far away from the humdrum world of man.
hrough the device of voice over, her mother-in-law, in an angry tone, tells her, “You have not yet given birth to a male child, you are already mother of three daughters.” Her mother-in-law’s attitude has adverse impact on her work. We also hear references to three sisters in a tone that smacks of insinuation. In an oblique manner, these comments are critique of patriarchal rural culture of India.
Just as the women are in their ecstatic height, a policeman enters the radio station, takes the male anchor to the police station for operating community radio station without the permission of state authorities. Though the narrative structure is slight in dramatic depth, it is lucid and embellished with a variety of stage properties, visual elements like pieces of soft fabrics, colourful umbrellas and some pieces of teddy bear in the process of making an exciting visual theatre.
Glittering with stars
Empowered with new technology, lighting designer Asmit Pathare creates a space glittering by myriad of stars with backdrop acquiring multiple colours.
In such an ambience, the women performers give wings to their imagination. Another element that enhances the value of the production is gracefully written lyrics rendered in soulful voices with minimal orchestral support.
The members of the cast – Abhishek Chauhan, Adithi Kalkunte, Priyanka Setia, Puja Sarup, Tanvi Lehr Sonigra and Vaishali Bisht – are professionally trained and experienced actors. The ensemble acting is brilliant.