‘Purdah’ brings out the best in acting, music and direction

By Neena Badhwar

Mahesh Dattani’s play directed by Saba Zaidi Abdi ”˜Where did I leave my purdah’ revealed many talented local actors in their best form that Sydney is slowly producing as time goes by.

Finally the Purdah is off with great acting by the actors was on display at the Pacific Christian School in Dural in the two nearly house full sessions Sydney Indian community witnessed on November 30, 2019.

Bobby Mullick, Aparna Vats, Aparna Tijoriwala gave powerful performances, each one better than the other, in the emotionally charged play that presented a multi-layered, psychological drama that explores entangled stories, complex relationships and more.

The crisp dialogues in the script outed stories based around Indo-Pak partition, Hindu-Muslim divide and the hurt they carry, the characters adapting themselves in the midst of lives full of horrible experiences. Some even taking a whole lifetime to bring facts out in the open, confusing conundrums of interlinked stories that the audience is left intrigued by the goings on, on stage the scenes moving back and forth with an ageing theatre actress who wants to revive her age old theatre. She can be stubborn, unrelenting and still living under the illusion of a once successful career of her hey days. Little does she realise that she can get caught in her own web of concocted tales that she has weaved around her life.

The current Nazia Begum (played by Bobby Mullick), the younger version (Aparna Vats) and Nazia’s niece (Aparna Tijoriwala) who is always probing the elderly lady to the many unanswered questions as the scenes move back and forth between the present, the past and in between. As the story unfolds, there are some highly charged moments, Aparna Vats with her outburst as the youthful ”˜Shakuntala’, one wonders what has ”˜Abhigyan Shakuntaalam’ story to do with the play.

Well, it has everything, the painful partition, the riots, the sacrifice, the merciless train ride, the love, the hatred, the secrets remaining secrets, the stubborn actor not budging, the play helped bring out the best in all the characters thus caught in the web. So, one can say that the script was just too good. And the actors under the guidance and direction of Saba Abdi acted really well. Not to mention the new actor on the scene Atharv, an engineer-turned actor, and others played by Suman, Saral, Pragya- a young medical student-turned actor. Taufeeq, Rima, Nisha, Dinsha Palkiwala all contributed to their parts well to help the story move forward. Some of the scenes seemed like the friezes in dimly lit stage especially the mayhem caused by the rioters and acting by a very scared group of victims caught in between.

The highlight was Sumi Krishnan’s music delivered in pure classical form, easing in, easing out gently slowly from one scene to another. ”˜Purdah’ is a class production by Adakar Theatre and Cultural Group that Sydney has witnessed. With sets, costumes and all the rest, Saba’s hardworking crew sure delivered another successful feather in Abdi’s cap!

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