Chitrangada is timeless. It is as relevant today as it was when Rabindranath Tagore had visualized her. Inspired by Princess Chitrangada’s persona, Tagore, the great Indian litterateur, poet and Nobel recipient, embellished the character of Chitrangada with the myriad emotions of a woman.
Rabindranath Tagore envisions “Chitrangada” like any other woman, who would desire to be an equal consort to the man of her choice while retaining her true identity. Chitrangada therefore becomes the exemplary woman.
Chitra and Chaitali have a lot in common, yet are alter-egos of each other. Each one wishes she could be like the other. The lives of the two women unfold with a surprise twist in 2018 in the play ‘Sundays with Chitra and Chaitali’, set against Arjuna’s and Chitra’s classic tale. “ITC Hotels through its endeavour of Welcome Theatre has consistently staged landmark plays. This year ITC Grand Chola presents Sundays with Chitra and Chaitali which promises to be an enthralling production and not to be missed” avers Anil Chadha, Vice President South ITC Hotels & General Manager ITC Grand Chola.
The play is written and directed by Isheeta Ganguly who was deeply inspired by Tagore’s dance drama “Chitrangada” during her teenage years and found deep resonance somewhere with the protagonist. DC got in touch with her before the play showcases on November 17. She talks about her life, the character of the play, her take on women who resort to duplicity in order to please others and more.
QGive the readers an insight about your early life, career and your journey.
I was born in Kolkata and went to the US as an infant at 11 months ... I grew up between New Jersey, Tokyo, Jakarta and Istanbul as my father was in oil and gas. I had a passion for Tagore’s music which became my thread of continuity across the many countries I grew up in. I spent my sophomore year of high school in kolkata studying Rabindrasangeet with the greatest maestro Smt Suchitra Mitra and released my first album at the age of 15. I continued to release another 7 albums through my college years at Brown University, followed by graduate work at Columbia University and my years as a management consultant in New York City. I began international collaborations of fusing Rabindrasangeet with my training in jazz gospel and R&B and collaborated on a number of projects including with Amitabh Bachchan in “Chirantan”, Mallika Sarabhai in “Still I Rise”, and “Ragas & Rhapsodies” with Ustaad Vilayat Khan. These collaborations with maestros shaped me deeply and inspired my career as a playwright, screenwriter and director
QWho is Chaitali, why is she an alter ego of Chitra?
Chaitali is the “after” version of Chitra or the “Surupa” version of her from the original tale. She is a Mumbai stylist who is beautiful, passive in many ways and believes in pleasing as the path to success even at her own cost. In the successive Sundays that Chitra meets her alter-ego Chaitali for coffee, they put each other down - both in their personal and professional spheres but secretly wish they were more like the other.
QChitrangada as we know had pleaded the gods for beauty to woo Arjuna, what would be your take on women in general who are always sacrificing or compromising with their true self to win over or please others?
The continued battle for women even in 2018 to “dress” to impress literally and figuratively in professional and personal spheres remains the yin and yang for women to find their own voice and space to break through with grace and strength.
QAccording to you, how can someone feel comfortable in their own skin, what personality traits ensures that?
I think ultimately it’s a journey for each of us to embrace ourselves, to accept our shortcomings and angularities and turn them into strengths through time and circumstances.
QWhat is the core message you are trying to give out through this play?
Be you. Do you. Don’t worry about the rest.
QWhat are your upcoming projects?
I am writing and directing my first film this year based on my second play, “Shakuntala Awaits”.
QHow does it feel to be performing in Chennai?
We are truly delighted to be performing in Chennai for the first time. Looking deeply forward.