In the past decade, news about sexual assault, harassment, and marital rape have seen an alarming uptick in the country. Taking to the stage along with his troupe, actor-director Makrand Deshpande’s new play, Balatkar Please Stop It! intends to shine a light on this issue.
“The title has been kept (bold) so as to not to shy away from the main subject. We had initially thought of naming it, International Women’s Day but it didn’t feel right to not tell people what they are being invited for,” Deshpande explains.
Taking a cue from the Hollywood film Inception (2010), Balatkar Please Stop It! is a play within a play where the artistes play the role of actors enacting a play on sexual assault, on the occasion of International Women’s Day. During the production period, everyone elicits different responses when they come face to face with a real-life rape victim. This makes them question many things, including whether they want to be a part of a play that revolves around this sensitive subject.
Actor Ninad Limaye, who is playing the role of Ravindra in the act says, “I think this play is very important in today’s time and I am honoured to contribute to it. It was a very complex process (to get into the mind of the character), but at the end of it, it enriched me as a person.”
Portraying the role of Chanda, actor Nivedita Bhattacharya says, “My character is a strong woman who has strong views and an erect spine. But she also has a compassionate side that comes out when you scratch the surface. In theatre, you have the luxury of going through your character as the process keeps evolving.”
The playwright says the play examines the anguish a woman faces in her life and is not just about acting or making money. “I would call it a truthful play, and the humour comes out at the hypocrisy of things. And I promise you, the climax is something nobody’s ever seen,” he signs off.