I was just waiting for the third bell and there she was, the Black Beauty of Indian cinema and one of our greatest actors, Nandita Das, in a black-and-white churidar-kurta.
A packed GD Birla Sabhagar was waiting to explode in applause but the soothing music somehow held them back. There was no formal curtain-raising as Maya was busy preparing breakfast, and we at once became a part of her household chores.
Between The Lines was supposed to be a play but it succeeded in making a full auditorium feel like they were peeping into the lives of Maya, Shekhar and their son Arjun, not through a keyhole but sitting right there in their drawing room.
Ten years of blissful married life can go topsy-turvy when the want of a woman becomes her priority. Her love for her husband, the responsibilities towards her family, everything comes under the scanner, all her actions are questioned.… Why?? Simply because for a change she wants to fulfil her aspirations; for once amidst all her To-Do-Lists she loves herself, her space more.
A simple yet moving tale of our lives, set against an ‘attempt to murder’ trial case, where Nandita and her husband-and-actor Subodh Maskara play all the four characters of the wife/respondent & husband/petitioner. Nandita’s quick changeover into the bashed-up wife who tried to kill her husband is so hugely different from Maya, a gold-medallist wife, and yet so subtle that never for once did I remember that it was she who was playing both. She has woven two diametrically opposite characters belonging to two different strata of the social ladder with such grace and has merged their crises which becomes one at the end with so much honesty, that Between The Lines ends up being the story of every woman, every working couple and every household.
We the audience were lucky to see Subodh Maskara. He was effortless as the doting husband as well as the MCP when asking his wife to step down from fighting the case against him.
I adored the set, casual, simple and aesthetically done, with the full feel of an upper middle-class home. I deliberately mention the word home, not house. The attires matched the whole feel. I wish I had the collection of music Nandita the director used in the play, I would love to play it 24x7 in my home as well. The lights were so apt, it only added to the mood and the changeovers helped the characters slip into their emotions, whether gloomy or happy.
As an actor I understand that no performance can be judged without giving merit to the script. Here the script made us laugh, giggle, feel sorry, sad, angry but the realisation that there must have been a script came much later, probably when I am writing this piece. I forgot that the actors were saying lines written in a bound script, so now you know why BTL is a winner.
No extra intellectualism, no extra gimmick, no extra tough English words which less-learned mortals like me would not understand… these were lines written straight from the heart which reached the hearts of people sitting in hundreds with their eyes fixed on their neighbours on stage.
Though Nandita mentioned it’s only their seventh show I would still say... they came, they performed, they conquered!
A story of our lives, our loves, our crises, our apprehensions, the blunt truth that women will be women and men will remain men, all “between the lines”.