The second day of the National Theatre Festival witness this play, Le Mashaley.
The play takes you through the journey of Irom Sharmila’s life. She has been fasting since 2000 against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which takes away very basic human rights of the people of Manipur. The play blends stories of Manipur, folk tales and facts and asks the audience to reconsider the happenings around us and in this country.
Ojas S V plays Irom Sharmila in the play, and she has directed it as well. She slowly takes the audience into the loop, by asking them questions about Manipur and then duly answering them. She tells us folklores of Manipur which gradually turn red. She describes how these stories are being murdered and the women of Manipur have been struggling to save themselves, their land, but their voices are being captured by the law of India.
This tightly knit play reveals a lot of things we might not have known before, about Irom, her struggle, Manipur and even our National Anthem, which strangely mentions almost all the geographies in the country barring only the north eastern states. The play left the audience present awestruck with the powerful representation of a struggle.
“I consider myself a theater person. If I wanted you to protest, I would just tell you, I wouldn’t perform. Some time back, when I was performing in Manipur, and a small girl was terrorised to see an army uniform on the stage. But as the play developed, she started to enjoy the stories I was telling, she could relate and understand, and that is, what I believe, the power of theater and that is why I call myself a theatre person first and then an activist”, says Ojas, who performs the solo-play.
This play ends with the words and beautiful tune of Tagore’s ‘Jodi tor daak shune keu naa ashe tobe ekla cholo re’ (translated to – If they answer not to thy call, walk alone). This was one story which was honestly told and honestly felt. Many audience members came backstage to tell her how touched they were, but could not articulate, not due to lack of words, but the necessity of them. The power of theater it was, indeed.