Local theatrical production called “Tara” was played at Pioneer Theatre in Castle Hill on 27th March. This play was by Prekshaa Art and Culture Inc under the direction of Bobby Mallick. Tara is a two act English Play written by Mahesh Dattani.
Tara and Chandan have always been close. They were, after all, born as conjoined twins. But a horrific revelation drives a wedge between the siblings, plunging Chandan into a cycle of guilt and blame from which he cannot escape. One of Mahesh Dattani’s most popular works, Tara was also one of the first Indian plays in English to highlight the dangers of gender discrimination, and the insidious ways in which it operates in our society.
The first thing that I absolutely loved about Tara is you simply can’t stop staring at the simply laid out sets. The first act – your eyes skim through the setting and before you know, it has grabbed you and thrown you into the beautiful, witty, twisted and painfully sad world of the conjoined twins, Chandan and Tara.
What starts as a play about two self-sufficient siblings, in a family where the mother favours the daughter and the father prefers the son, slowly evolves into a beautiful and horrifying tale of parental preference for the male, guilt, making amends, secrets and lies.
The plot is good one, and I loved the non-linearity of time. The plot revolves around two conjoined twins Tara and Chandan who were separated a few months after birth in a very complicated and revolutionary surgery. However, there is a secret that the parents have maintained from the children, and the guilt of that drives the actions of the characters of the play. The actions of both Tara and Chandan emerge from such emotional places at times that I sat there awed.
My favourite part about the play was the way in which it juxtaposed various scenes and it made them more complex and everything was told to us indirectly via that juxtaposed layer. There is humour, tragedy, grace, twists, love, and pain. It is, at the same time heart touching and heart breaking. The mother played by Rima Sen is a melodramatic mum adorned in her saree and so immersed in her character. Rushi Dave playing the role of the father with his typical office bag stole the show with his powerful adoption of the role. Dhanvi Dave playing Tara & Rwik Chatterjee in Chandan’s role were brilliant in their characters.
Tara is such a dynamic play, where more than reality what we get to see is the play of memory and flashback, with so many themes brought together succinctly. From the stereotypical gender roles to family conflict, from dealing with disability and its consequences to the sick hilarity the neighbour’s children find in the Patel family. Theirs is a marriage of cultures, Gujarati weds Kannada. And as they settle down in Bombay, their neighbour’s language, the funny accents or the misspoken and mispronounced words, there is such a flavour of Indianness in all of it. And when the prejudicial jokes are cracked, it gives us food for thought. Then there is a dark secret that the parents are harbouring, something to do with Chandan and Tara’s present condition.
It is a poignant play about what life could have been. There is an element of suspense too, surrounding the Patel couple. And the revelation, after going through the entire play, left me with a thousand different feelings.
Ultimately, Tara is a laudable introduction for Australian Indians to Dattani’s dramatic oeuvre, and a good showcase for its characters. I look forward to reading all of his works now. Even if I don’t know how and when I will get to see them on stage. But I must admit, I had no clue about the potential of hidden theatrical talent before this. So, kudos to everyone who were the part of the play.