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The Sisterhood Of Sahelis

Wednesday, February 06, 2019
By Deepa Gahlot

A Delhi farmhouse, a big wedding sangeet, and a group of the bridesmaids (“who has bridesmaids in India?” someone grumbles before the audience wonders), dressed in awful gowns designed by the bride, escape to an empty room to smoke pot, drink, vent and gossip. The play is bound to be amusing; it is also quite crass—when there’s no man around, women can be just as vulgar as a bunch of drunken men.

Dekh Behen, written by Dilshad Edibam Khurana and Tahira Nath Krishnan, directed by Shikha Talsania and Prerna Chawla, is an all-woman play (with an all-woman crew too), with sexual frustration, jealousy and marital unhappiness expressed frankly, as the madness of the ceremony goes on downstairs. The women are supposed to join the revelry at some point with an under-rehearsed item number—the scene of them trying out the steps is hilarious.

There is the bride’s sister Riya (Mithila Palkar), a cynical career woman Trisha (Ahlam Khan Karachiwala), a disgruntled married woman Manpreet (Tahira Nath Krishnan), the sweet ingénue Kanupriya (Astha Arora) and the groom’s lesbian sister (almost mandatory these days to include a gay character) Mindy (Dilshad Edibam Khurana).

They all get drunk, stoned and increasingly shrill about the lack of nice guys. One particular “hot guy” who is a philanderer, gets his physical attributes rated too. For some reason the bride (Prerna Chawla) is disliked, most of all by her sister—the reason is revealed later (there is nod, probably unintended, to the classic Urdu short story Utran by Wajida Tabassum).

Before the high drama hits, the conversation is deliciously bitchy and very funny. It’s only just a tad discomfiting to find that in Veera Ki Wedding mode, the idea of bold women automatically means they smoke, drink and sleep around. If an all-male play had the men talking about women in the same tone, it would have gotten slammed for sexism and crudity.

The cast, made up of Akvarious regulars, have a comfort level among themselves, that makes them speak and act with uninhibited ribaldry; there must have been a fair amount of ad-libbing too. Younger audiences would relate to the play and not be put off by the language. Dekh Behen entertains alright, but a little more depth would have helped to make it a wonderful window into the lives of contemporary women – their thoughts and aspirations. Surely, there is more to girl talk that sex, men and booze?

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Aries (Mar 21 - Apr 20)You are likely to remain careful and watchful today, foretells Ganesha. And because you'll be invited to parties and other social events, your enthusiasm will remain buoyant. You will also strike the right balance between business and pleasure, says Ganesha.
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