& occasionally about other things, too...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saree Kahaniyan: The Saree Stories

Nitin & Jasmine Sawant

I had seen a vignette of Saree Kahaniyan: The Saree Stories at the Rang Manch Canada’s festival a couple of months ago, and it immediately touched a chord.

Jasmine Sawant’s street-theatre style play depicting the significance of a saree in a woman’s (and everyone’s) life was something many in the audience could easily relate to having experienced a similar situation in their lives. Shruti Shah and Naimesh Nanavaty performed a skit that would touch many hearts – the saree she wore the first time she met him.  

Last week, at the Desi Grants Award program in Mississauga, I saw a fuller version of Saree Stories. It is a composition of different vignettes from a woman’s remembrance of things past through her sarees.

Shruti Shah, this time enacting the role of a lonely widow in a stark white sari, sitting in her condo somewhere in Canada, and recounting her days of youth in Mumbai. From the time her mother threw away her saree in the garbage to the time when she and her husband get caught in a terrorist attack and she uses her saree to bandage a stranger grievously wounded in this random act of violence.

All the vignettes had a common thread – they were true stories, and all of them were from Mumbai. At Rang Manch Canada event the audience comprised mostly men, and the response to Jasmine’s skit was muted. On the other hand, at the Desi magazine event, there were as many women as men, and the response Jasmine got when she asked the women in the audience to share their saree stories was spontaneous, evocatively rich and varied.

Jasmine – in her role as the sutradhar – interspersed her narrative with a combination of some personal anecdotes, some history of the saree (in the past, men wore sarees, too) and some engaging small talk.

Both Jasmine and Shruti have their roots in Mumbai’s theatre world; both are pioneers of the now decade-old Sawitri Theatre Group based in Mississauga. 

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151009042318881&set=t.653261577&type=3&theater

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