About Afsaneh – Bai Se Bioscope Tak
Fusing dance and dialogue, music and romance, humor and melodrama, Nautanki, the traveling folk theatre, a precursor to Bollywood was watched in cities and villages all night, drawing them into a world of fantasy and make-believe.
When young Gulab joined the Nautanki in 1931, she became the first female performer of this art & it wasn’t long before she was considered the epitome of wit and wisdom and was awarded the Padma Shri. At the other end of the spectrum, Beni Bai catered to the elite, with the more refined baithak style. Even though they propounded a similar art form, their lifestyles and audiences differed, and somehow, within the unavoidable rivalry, a mutual respect existed.
These two women ruled the minds and hearts of a nation for years. Yet they died sad and disillusioned women when they saw their art languishing with the onslaught of cinema. Theirs is a fascinating tale of emancipation in a society that did not respect its women.
Directed by Akarsh Khurana, the play intersperses drama with folk dance, Kathak and live singing.