Evolution of Women in Theatre: Then and Now

Image credit: Free Press Journal

Two plays currently running on the Mumbai stage revisit old hits, showcasing how women’s roles have evolved over the decades. In 1990, Prashant Dalvi’s Marathi play, Charchaughi, was considered revolutionary for its time. It depicted a woman who defied societal norms by having three daughters out of wedlock, challenging the prevailing customs. The new production features a strong cast, including Rohini Hattangady, Mukta Barve, Kadambari Kadam, and Parna Pethe, and retains the original setting, emphasizing the changes in women’s lives over the years.

The eldest daughter, Vidya, seeks shared custody of her child after her marriage ends, a concept that was disapproved of in the past but is more accepted today. Vaiju, the second daughter, struggles with her husband’s inability to hold a job and societal expectations about motherhood. The youngest daughter, Vini, explores non-traditional relationships, a scenario that remains unconventional even today.

Despite addressing complex emotional issues, Charchaughi maintains a hopeful and humorous tone, ultimately conveying the message that women who defy convention can thrive. The play, ahead of its time when originally staged, reflects society’s slow progress toward gender equality.

The second play, The Graduate, adapted from the acclaimed 1967 film, tells the story of a 21-year-old graduate who embarks on an affair with an older woman trapped in a loveless marriage. In the modern adaptation, director Trishla Patel turns the story into a raunchy comedy, shedding the moral dilemmas of the original plot. Today’s audiences laugh at once-serious lines, as our culture has become less judgmental about unconventional relationships. Mrs. Robinson, once seen as a villain, is now perceived more sympathetically, while the young protagonist’s actions are viewed critically.

Re-reported from the article originally published in Free Press Journal

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