By Manju Sampat
I saw Shikhandi when they had their first season. It is an absolutely brilliant production and a play that should not be missed under any circumstances. It has everything, drama, dance, good storyline, comedy, fantastic acting and direction, and is in every way a complete entertainer. Thankfully, it returns for another run from April 12th to 15th, at NCPA’s Experimental Theatre.Shikhandi is perhaps one of the earliest transgender characters known in history/mythology. She appears in the Mahabharata and plays a crucial part in winning the battle of Kurukshetra for the Pandavas. Shikhandi was meant to be born male to avenge an insult in her past life as Amba, but the bigger karmic game unfolds when she is reborn female, raised male, has a sex change on her wedding night when she runs away to the forest (thanks to a Yaksha), and finally fulfils her destiny – to be the cause of Bhishma’s death.
This play is a comic, tongue-in-cheek, retelling of the story of Shikhandi, mixing traditional Indian storytelling and contemporary English verse, and questioning gender, sexuality, maleness, femaleness and everything in between. It is indeed a tour de force dramatisation. The play was runner-up at the Sultan Padamsee Playwriting Awards 2016. Do not miss it this time!
Written & Directed by Faezeh Jalali
Cast: MeherAcharia-Dar, Mahnaz Damania, Vikrant Dhote, Karan Desai, Nikhil Murali, Srishti Srivastava, Nakul Bhalla/Tushar Pandey & Kartavya Anthwaal Sharma/ Abhishek Chauhan