Jatinga shows the plight of less fortune women: Faezeh

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Jatinga, a small town with a population over 2500  and most famous for the phenomenon of birds ‘committing suicide’ by mysteriously flying off a cliff and plunging to their deaths but in reality these suicides are a myth.

 

Purva Naresh, an award- winning playwright has aptly used the concept to write his new play, Jatinga – the story of five young girls who find themselves on a train to Jatinga when an investigative journalist offers them a chance to change the course of their lives.

The play is inspired by the daughters of sex-workers in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s oldest and Asia’s second largest red-light district. The writer has beautifully projected the story of those less fortune girls who come to this place with a hope of getting better opportunities but end up in brothels.

From the slums of Mumbai, to the tribal regions of India’s north and to the Red Corridor in the east, the play joins the girls as they find themselves on a train to Jatinga. While on the train, an investigative journalist offers them a glimmer of hope, but they must remember that there are predators lurking around every corner.

bAKEHOUSE commissioned the development of Jatinga, partnering with award-winning actor and director Faezeh Jalali, international social activist and performer Sapna Bhavani, Bakehouse artistic associate Jarrod Crellin and Hindi playwright Purva Naresh.

Aimed at raising awareness about human trafficking, Jatinga is being presented at the Kings Cross theatre from June 9-June 24.

Jatinga’s Sydney cast includes  theatre talent Suz Mawer and Monroe Reimers , Sheila Kumar Jarrod Crellin and Trishala Sharma. As part of the bAKEHOUSE Artistic Cultural Exchange program, celebrated actors and activists Faezeh Jalali and Sapna Bhavani, who played an integral part in the show’s development in Mumbai are also a part of the play in Sydney.

Talking to Public Telegraph, Faezah Jalali explains about her role in the play and also talks about the challenges they confront in bringing a play to stage from page.

“Jatinga – is based on a very  sensitive issue of human trafficking. Inspired by the daughters of sex-workers in Kamathipura the play throws light on the lives of those less fortunate girls who come to the city of dreams- Mumbai in search of better avenues but somehow end up in these brothels. Jatinga, basically  is the story of five girls desperately trying to change the course of their lives and  I am one of those five girls in the play.”

The inspiration for Jatinga sparked in 2014 when bAKEHOUSE Theatre Company’s artistic director Suzanne Millar spent three months in Kamathipura to establish an arts program in partnership with the Apne Aap Women’s Collective (AAWC). AAWC works with the daughters of Kamathipura’s sex workers to provide them with an education and pathways out of the cycle of inter-generational prostitution.

“When Millar came to India she was doing some research on red light, she met us and that was when this idea came up and now it is being presented to Sydney audience.”

Sharing her artistic journey as an actor, Faezah says, “I am in love with acting since childhood and  going down the memory lane what I can recall is that I was offered a small role  of a turban carrier in a school play  while in class 7th or 8th  and that was my first public performance. Though the role was only limited to carry the turban but people appreciated my part and that boosted my confidence and next year I did the role of a cobbler and I think that is how it all started.”

“After my schooling at JB Petit, I went to USA for higher studies and joined Beloit College in Wisconsin, USA where alongside theatre arts I also took pre-medical background classes for dental school. But I believe it is all about destiny and in my case theatre won and  I obtained a  Master’s degree in Fine Arts from University of Tennessee.”

Faezeh believes that theatre is one of the powerful mediums to bring about change and for that reason she started her own theatre company.

“I believe theatre has the power to change the mindset.  There are so many issues which are ignored and theatre is the best medium to reach public and highlight those issues.  I wanted to take the risk of experimenting with form and content  and that is why I  started my own theatre company .”

Faezeh’s production Shikhandi- The story of the In-betweens, based on the mythological transgender character of Shikhandi received much appreciation and that  gave Faezeh an insight of the whole production process from being a writer, director to producer of the play.

“Shikhandi – is the story of the in-betweens and my main motive through this play was to draw attention towards the taboos associated with the LGBT community and I am happy that I was able to explain my perspective to the audience through my play.”

Besides being an eminent theatre personality, Faezeh has also worked as an actress in films including Qissa, Kurbaan , The president is Coming, Slumdog Millionaire, Mr Ya Miss and in TV series Mahi Way. Suzanne Millar, director of Jatinga said, “our work in India is an experiment in the power of the arts to transform lives. Theatre can speak to a community about who they are, and who they want to be – and the girls at AAWC want their stories to be told.”

Suzanne Millar, director of Jatinga said, “Our work in India is an experiment in the power of the arts to transform lives. Theatre can speak to a community about who they are, and who they want to be – and the girls at AAWC want their stories to be told.”

Following the world premiere in Sydney,  bAKEHOUSE will present Jatinga at the launch of the National Centre of Performing Arts’ prestigious Centrestage Festival in Mumbai in November.

 

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