Team Natyaved’s Pagla Ghoda highlights women’s issues with a touch of thriller, horror and tragedy

The entire play revolves around four men and the spirits of four women
Artistes from the play
Artistes from the play

The portrayal of women’s issues in different art forms explores both common and unconventional themes. From addressing common challenges like domestic violence, sexual harassment or flesh trade to delving into unusual realms of black magic and even witchcraft, these depictions reflect deep-seated superstitions and gender biases against women. Natyaved team’s upcoming Hindi play — Pagla Ghoda promises a gripping blend of drama, fantasy, horror, suspense, thriller, and tragedy, offering a thought-provoking journey. Pagla Ghoda, originally penned by Badal Sircar in Bengali, has been translated by Dr Pratibha Agarwal in Hindi.

The entire play revolves around four men and the spirits of four women. It starts with men who have come to a graveyard to cremate the body of a young woman who tragically died as a result of unrequited love. As they engage in card games and drink at the graveyard, the spirit of the deceased girl comes alive, sparking a unique conversation. The men share their stories, unknowingly connected to three other deceased women, while the spirits respond to their narratives. The play unfolds through poignant tales: a man avoiding marriage out of respect, another facing challenges in love, a third saving a girl with tragic consequences, and the last confronting a girl leading to her tragic death. Despite being unable to see the spirits, the men engage in exchanging stories. A lingering sense of guilt exists within them, even though they aren’t solely responsible for the women’s deaths.

The director of the play, Thakur Honey Singh, tells us, “According to the original script, a single artiste portrays all four women because she is a spirit, but I’ve made a modification. Now, four distinct actresses will bring each character to life, highlighting unique aspects of their personalities.” He agrees that the play delves into the societal oppression faced by these women and emphasises relationships across diverse backgrounds. It explores the regressive mindset prevalent in society during the period. “Despite being written a long time ago, it’s disheartening to observe that the play remains relevant today, underscoring the enduring issues it addresses,” adds Thakur, who is also acting in the play.

He plans on incorporating dramatic lights and varied music to enhance the theatrical experience, ensuring a clear distinction between past and present without confusion. Each girl has a unique background music, delineating different timelines. This creative use of fade-ins and fade-outs extends to scenes of hallucination, providing insight into the characters’ contemplation of the events leading to the tragic deaths. Thakur expresses, “My intention wasn’t to evoke fear; rather, the play aims to unfold the narrative organically. However, a bit of eeriness arises as the audience gradually realises that the spirits are the ones communicating. The story’s relatability lies in the portrayal of issues faced by women, and I believe many women will connect with the varied experiences depicted in the play.” He agrees that he has simplified the play, keeping it straightforward. Even the spirits converse without elaborate voice modulations, adding simplicity to the complexity.

Thakur emphasises the play’s elements of past, present, and imagination. The men ponder the fates of the deceased women, and the spirits reveal the truth. The approach avoids excessive drama or any other magical elements. Mohit Baid, who is playing Himadri, one of the men, tells us, “As the tutor in the play, I portray a simple boy from a traditional family who experiences a romantic setback. Acting allows me to delve into the character’s traits and, interestingly, draws parallels with my own life. This connection is what I cherish about theatre.” Rushali Sharma portrays the character of the recently deceased girl in the play, referred to simply as ladki (girl). This deliberate choice aims to resonate with many women. Describing her experience, Rushali shares, “This complex character with multiple layers is both challenging and enjoyable, contributing to my growth as an artiste.” Other artistes in the play include Thakur Shashant Singh, Rocky G, Kruthi Siddharth, Shradha Chintal and Sanyogeeta Pawar.

Tickets at Rs 200. February 4, 18. 7.30 pm.

At Lamakaan, Banjara Hills.

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Twitter: @kaithwas_sakshi

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