Remember the days when all the kids of the house would sit around their grandmother, who would tell them an interesting bedtime story or two?
Hyderabadis were in for a similar experience when actress and theatre personality Ratna Pathak Shah took the stage in Lamakaan, as part of their eighth anniversary celebrations recently.
The event saw over 100 people of all age groups in attendance, who didn’t mind sitting on the walls and boulders, or even standing for the entire one-and-a-half hours that Ratna Pathak Shah spoke. The 60-year-old actress performed Ismat Chughtai’s famous story Mughal Bachcha — a story which revolves around the patriarchal practices in our society, the male ego and a proud woman.
While the story itself was very interesting, Shah’s brilliant narration made the whole experience even better. The audience sat spellbound as she took them through the journey of Gori Bee and Kaaley Mian’s marriage.
What’s more, the actress didn’t just narrate the story, but also kept the audience engaged by enacting various things, such as eating a paan or using a hand fan — exactly like any nani or dadi would do while narrating a story to kids.
The storytelling session was followed by an interactive session. The actress took many questions from the audience and many even shared their experience of the event. Explaining why there is a dearth of Hindi and Urdu writers now, she said, “Because we all want to talk in English. Starting from the parents to the teachers, everyone forces a child to speak in English. In such a scenario, how can a child pick up any Indian language?” But she quickly added, “There are people who write in the Hindustani languages too, but that has a very niche audience, that needs to change.”
Talking about the theatre scene in India, Shah pointed out, “India is the only country where the informal theatre culture still exists. A few friends can come together and put up a play, and there are no issues. In many other countries, an actor has to be a member of the union. Also, many youngsters in India are now coming up with theatre even from smaller cities like Bhopal, Jodhpur and Bareilly.
Back in the day, many artistes who graduated from National School of Drama ventured into TV or movies, which is changing now.”
When asked about the difference between acting in a play and narrating a story, the actress said, “These are two different genres. While the play also tells a tale, storytelling gives wings to the audience’s imagination. You can picture the characters, places and incidents however you like. It’s like giving the audience some work to do too!” The event ended, quite naturally, with a standing ovation from the crowd.