Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo leaves you uncomfortably numb

When was the last time you saw three back-to-back standing ovations from an overwhelmed and moist-eyed audience at the end of a play in Vadodara? Saumya Joshi’s ‘Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo’ screened on 8th July’15 at CC Mehta Auditorium, organized by In Sync Club and produced by Manhar Gadhia and Umesh Shukla is one such masterpiece.

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The first thing to strike you is surely the stage design. A mammoth local train stares boldly at you, transporting to the Mumbai local platform, while the station names whizz along at regular intervals. The motif of local train is a visual metaphor for a prostitute played to perfection by Jigna Vyas – an observation rightly pointed out by my colleague, Maithilee Desai.

What begins as on a Chameli-sque note goes on to hit the high crescendos of emotions and storytelling skills of the writer. A simple story of a cop bumping into a prostitute in a local train of Mumbai unfolds varied layers of life, love and the society we live in.

Actors Jigna Vyas and Jayesh More breathe life into their characters. So much so that they stealthily follow you all through the way homeward and refuse to leave your mindscape in the office. Yup, they’re still around, arguing over petty issues, crooning the ‘Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat’, swinging over the train’s door and dodging electric poles.

Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo has been adapted from a Marathi play, ‘The Proposal’ directed by Suresh Chikhle. Perhaps, ‘Prastaav’ would have been a much befitting title than ‘Aaj jaane ki zidd na karo’ – well, now that one has liked the play so much, it becomes difficult not to own it.

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Any further revelation about what transpires on the stage would be criminal. Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo is replete with gems of one-liners that reflect deep philosophies of life without being preachy. The back story of Jayesh will leave you numb for a really long time and am not exaggerating; you’ll have some hard time holding back those tears welled up in the corner of your eyes – and we’re not talking melodrama here.

The tears are in fact, disguised questions of one’s inner voice, gently nudging you and questioning the way we perceive prostitution in our society. This issue is conveniently brushed aside and we often end up condemning and judging those ‘loose’ women selling their flesh on street side and local trains. We never really bother to think that it’s the ‘customers’ who disgrace themselves by cheating on their spouse and sleeping with prostitutes, rather than those women on streets.

A digress here. We took pride in the fact that the USA legalized same-sex marriage and wore the rainbow up our sleeve (read profile pic), but the Indian Supreme Court’s decision of empowering single mothers as single guardian was a news that drowned in the quagmire of a Big Fat Greek Wedding. This decision reflects a revolutionary change in the way India shall perceive single mothers in future. In the same vein, the play ‘Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo’ shall change the way India perceives prostitution. It’s that powerful.

To sum it up, ‘Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo’ is a play you just cannot afford to miss. Keep checking the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aaj-Jaane-Ki-Zidd-Na-Karo-a-play-by-Saumya-Joshi-MGP/579919355486677?fref=ts and the moment you find it playing in your city or a nearby city (It’s worth even travelling to Surat, A’bad or Mumbai if they’re staging it there).

Saumya Joshi has never failed to touch a chord with his illustrious work, especially Welcome Zindagi https://prakashgowda.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/welcome-zindagi-a-breath-of-fresh-air-in-vadodara/

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The play ended with a thank-you note by Saumya Joshi, who said, “This entire set of local trains will be soon dismantled and packed off to another city and how I wish I could also pack this wonderful audience too.” Well, you’ve already done that, sir! The applause of Vadodara’s audience shall always resonate in the memory of your wonderful actors and diligent team.

Thank you Saumya Joshi for adapting and directing this gem of a play called Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo. Thank you for those sliding doors of local train, the Mohd. Rafi song, the ‘ek glass paani’ line, the grim-flavoured maal-puvaas. The Parle G biscuit packet will no longer remain the same for us.

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