BAND, BAJA, BOMBSHELL
By SHAGORIKA EASWAR
Having attended a good many big fat Indian weddings in my time, I would have said I was familiar with all that they entailed. The song-and-dance routines (though I only recently discovered that now families actually hire choreographers to teach them the moves for these!) the feasting, the family bickering... but Sawitri’s latest production, Savita Weds Satish, had me sitting up and saying, “I did not see that coming!”
The day starts off like pre-wedding days you may have been part of, an uncle falling asleep in the corner while the ladies are engrossed in mehndi sessions, gorgeous clothes and discussing prospective grooms for other females of marriageable age – or older. Then one becomes aware of undercurrents and before you know it, you are swept away in a conflict of culture and values.
Since the last performance was in November, I can safely say – without fear of spoilers – that Savita Weds Satish not only brings all the drama of an Indian wedding to life, it brings us face-to-face with our many hypocrisies surrounding LGBTQ issues. It makes it topical by including references to the sex-ed curriculum in Toronto and current laws about it in Canada and India.
Sawitri strives to educate, entertain and heal through theatre arts and has never shied away from addressing issues of social or political importance such as misogyny and patriarchy. In this, they take on another issue that is left unspoken of in many desi homes or one that is accompanied by nudge-nudge-wink-wink gossip.
The superb cast does an admirable job of projecting the feelings and emotions as well as misconceptions around the subject. You feel Savita’s and Pinky’s pain, but you also understand uncle Mahesh’s confusion. There are no villains in this, just a family struggling to come to terms with secrets.
For his first theatrical presentation, director Siddhant (Sid) Sawant shows a steady hand and a keen understanding of fine details and the subtext in an emotionally-fraught situation. The interactive format and the intimate seating draw one into the revelry – and the conflict. Audience members are invited to a feast of snacks and laddoos before the wedding begins, encouraged to dance in the wedding party and to shower petals on the couple during the wedding ceremony. At the same time, when the tensions explode, it’s like one is sitting in a corner of the room the family is in, hurting for them, hoping it will end well.
I am not sure how this would translate onto a larger stage but this is a play that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. It’s a conversation we need to have.
For more info, visit www.sawitri.ca