Sometimes ironies are overlooked. At other times, they cannot be missed. The latter hit Amit Tiwari like a brick in the face. The simple fact that India is one of the most populated countries in the world and yet where sex is taboo, was an irony that Tiwari couldn’t stop cringing at. In his new play, White Saree, his characters are caught in the struggle of keeping up with their sexual dilemmas, and at the same time trying to move away from it.
“My play looks at how the same sexual urge makes women characterless and men macho,” he says. He believes that if you want to test the openness of a society, talk to them about sex. In India, you’ll mostly just see eyes rolling. “If we’re unable to digest something so basic, how will we be able to understand issues pertaining to different sexual orientations?” he asks.
The white saree symbolising widowhood is the soul of the play. Even though white is supposed to be synonym with serenity, completeness and peace, it’s now come to be known as the colour of mourning and sadness, which disturbs the director a lot. “I want people to know how women are suffocating under the shroud of that white saree. That’s also the idea where we got the title of the play,” he says. “Cinema has tried to address the issue in the form of movies like Water, along with some documentaries, it’s still far from enough.” Through his play, he wants to make the right noise about the issue.
To give due credit to the changing social circumstances, Tiwari is happy for things changing in the urban connect, but the lack of shift in mindset on the rural front agitates him. That issues of patriarchy caste, gender taboos, economic discrimination, biases based lack of English proficiency and most importantly for him, marginalisation of widows who face multiple layers of oppressions, are some of the areas that need urgent attention.
He is also aware that a lot of people may not understand the need for a play like this, but at the same time he hopes that those who do come forward to make efforts to change the current situation in whatever way they can.
After the play has been staged, a short Himalayan holiday awaits him. But upon return, Project Metanoia, a short travel film based on persons with disability, will demand his time. He’ll also get busy with the scheduling of other plays such as 1500 Ka Dost, Kaaki, Syahi and Jeevita Challave. “We have a pool of educationists and enthusiasts who sincerely focus on making theatre education holistic, fun and easy to understand,” he says.
August 27, 4 pm and 7 pm, at LTG Auditorium on Copernicus Marg.