Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Not Just Her Story

(Theatre Enthusiast Mati Rajput writes about 07/07/07 - The Play. Mati Rajput is a Thespoan, an Arts student, illustrator for this blog and the winner of multiple acting awards in the inter-collegiate theatre circuit. She's also pretty cool to hang out with.)

   Have you ever been in a situation where you're sitting comfortably in the front row of Prithvi and in the very next moment you're being executed in Tehran for a crime you have not committed? That's precisely what Faezeh Jalali's 777 does to you.

   777 is based on true events. It depicts the story of Reyhaneh Jabbari, a nineteen year old teenager. The Play opens with 6 girls wearing a hijab, as they enter the stage singing in harmony. It seems like quite an ordinary play and then the actors start to unravel the incident. Reyhaneh has been played by 7 actors, each of them equally justifying their part. Faezeh Jalali - the director of the play chooses to use a format similar to a skit where all actors are on stage most of the time. The men though lesser in number are also in no mood to be left behind in terms of impact. The ensemble works precisely well in the favour of this play. I like how all the costumes had a grayish tinge. The hijab works just fine to add to the feel of an incident that took place in Iran and continuously reminds me that this particular story might have a Kurdish background but for the hijab, it could happen anywhere and to anyone . Arghya Lahiri's light design has a story of its own and it makes the play even more magical. The use of catwalk, quick costume changes, flawless character transitions, minimum number of properties and maximum utilisation of it makes the play a directorial genius. 
      Reyhaneh would've come across as any other ambitious girl with an aim of excelling as an interior designer until Mr. Sarbandi, a 46 year old surgeon tried to sexually assault her. Mr. Sarbandi was found dead after the incident. But Reyhaneh only admitted to stabbing him once in her defense and claimed to have nothing to do with the murder. However considering that the man belonged to the Iranian Intelligence Agency, she got thrown into solitary confinement almost immediately.  In prison, the policemen practiced third degree investigation to gain information and make her confess. The play keeps repeating the potrayal of the traumatic incident that took place, an excellent reminder of the number of times Reyhaneh was forced to recollect the incident and how every time it left her in a different state of mind. She decided to write about her pain on bits of paper to narrate the story of agony and torture that she had been through and in a beautiful choice of words, hoped for it to spread like 'seeds of dandelion'. 

    But soon she got caught with a pen and got accused of being a spy. Later, the police inspectors compelled her to make  false confessions with the threat of imprisoning her family members. With that, Reyhaneh got sent to a prison in Tehran where she befriended her inmates and made peace with the situation. She was now getting out of her depression. Her urge to attain more education in the prison and repeated efforts in the direction showed how hopeful, bold and strong she was. A special note here about the effortless switch between an inmate and a warden by Suruchi Aulakh. 

    Every transition taken by the actors to change into another character was an example of mere perfection. From Reyhaneh's imprisonment in Tehran to her execution, I sat there numb, with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes and I couldn't stop myself from breaking down. I got so engrossed in the play that I felt like a part of her story and found myself helpless, rebellious, optimistic and I also encountered myself losing hope. Another special mention here for Niharika Lyra Dutta who's graduation performance I had witnessed just a couple of weeks ago and in her career debut, she became a major reason behind my relentless weeping.

     777 managed to stun me as well as all the other people present in the audience. It's not unusual to see people stand up in joy and applaud to appreciate a work of art but after watching Reyhaneh's story, people could hardly get up from their seats and exit from the state the play had put them into. This is the beauty of 777. I would recommend everybody to watch it for the performers, for the way it has been crafted, for its ability to make you feel every emotion and for leaving the audience mesmerized by its finesse. 

No comments:

Post a Comment