(First published in Desi News October 2014)
It was shortly after SAWITRI was born, that I met Mahesh Dattani through Where There’s A Will. As I was reading the play, I laughed so much that I nearly fell off the couch! And then, when I was done, I sat silent for a long, long while. This man had effortlessly described the father-son relationship that I had witnessed in my community; the Gujarati community. Maybe it existed in other communities as well, but there it was, out in the open. Someone had taken the time to write about the patriarchal stranglehold. Intelligently, dramatically, incisively and poignantly, someone who had perhaps, suffered as did his ‘Ajit’ in the play, had penned down the pain. And then there was the treatment of the women. The way the character of Hasmukh Mehta treated his wife and his mistress was funny, wacky, but deep down there was a systemic manipulation and marginalization of the women of his household. It was a cleverly constructed play that resonated strongly with us on many levels.