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Men as women, women as women... Tagore’s Lakshmir Pariksha is all set to go topsy-turvy

A role reversal, a strong political message and an all-female play. One can expect this kind of a spinner from Rabindranath Tagore maybe, but watching it being enacted on stage by men (well, they play eight of the 24 woman characters)!

Lakshmir Pariksha, a play scripted by Tagore, has seldom found its way onto the stage, maybe more because of the all-female demand. But theatrician Goutam Halder decided to break conventions and make a go for it at the 12th Vodafone Odeon Theatre Festival, partnered by t2. “Initially I had thought of using just actresses for the play, but eventually I had eight men in the role of women. Two of them are little boys,” smiled the director who embraced the challenge of essaying the female lead for the play, that of the housemaid Kshiro.

The production by Naye Natua theatre group addresses the socio-economic tension that prevails in society through Rani Kalyani, who is an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, and the maid Kshiro. The maid is quite perturbed by how Rani Kalyani gets all the attention, love and wealth, and craves a similar life. One night before going to sleep, she prays to Goddess Lakshmi to grant her just one wish — to put her in Rani Kalyani’s position.

The next morning brings a major change in Kshiro’s life as she is suddenly showered with all the wealth but that does not make her as loved as Kalyani. Kshiro, a selfish and jealous woman, turns even worse with wealth at hand. “Turning away hungry mouths from her door, she also ends up shooing away an old woman begging for alms, who is actually Lakshmi in disguise. Pop, she suddenly wakes up to realise it was all but a dream. The rest of the story is a realisation phase, which helps Kshiro understand life.

“It is a hilarious play and I am quite surprised as to why no one ever really tried staging it before. But what is worth watching out for is the political message that the play will convey,” added Gautam.

Sreyoshi Dey