How to Say No, Yes & I Don’t Care, the Suchitra Krishnamoorthi Way
Suchitra “Drama Queen” Krishnamoorthi gives lessons on flirting, avoiding “feeble no”, and surviving divorce .
“No, it won’t be a problem. I promise, it won’t be. Kaveri will be fine!”
When a harrowed Suchitra Krishnamoorthi almost falls at her shrink’s feet in a bid to convince her that she hasn’t passed on her eating disorders to Kaveri, her daughter, my thoughts ran back to the 8-year-old that I left behind at home that afternoon. A stifled sigh from the row behind told me that I was not the only one in the auditorium making this journey.
Krishnamoorthi’s “daringly candid solo” ‘Drama Queen,’ produced by AGP World, opened the Old World Theatre Festival in Delhi last week. The play is an adaptation of her roman-à-clef book by the same name. While protecting people’s privacy under fictional names, Krishnamoorthi gives herself no kid-glove treatment. As in the book, she appears onstage with all her faults and foibles on display, coughing intermittently.
Just before the show, director Inaayat Ali Sami told me to watch out for the form and “the voices”. Yes, ‘Drama Queen’ is all about voices. From voices of her friends and families to the ones in her head; from the sensual voice of a Pankaj Ganatra on her phone that makes her go weak in the knees to the business-like monotone of her shrink; as also the voices of multiple abstractions like morality, virtue, desire – Krishnamoorthi is in the middle of a cacophony. Going by their reactions during the performance, so were, perhaps, most women in the audience.
With stardom, high-profile marriage and motherhood on one side and divorce, loneliness and mental ailments on the other, Krishnamoorthi’s life is a ready-made material for high-voltage drama. The strength of her self-scripted play lies in its honesty and the rare ability of the protagonist to laugh at herself. When Krishnamoorthi goes on and on about being a good girl and how her friend Chandni only cares for sex, she tosses a clever joke at the audience. And while she fights with her overbearing mother, she exposes herself more than she does the older woman.
‘Drama Queen’ resembles Doris Lessing’s iconic novel The Golden Notebook in its honest admission that ‘empowered woman’ may just well be another category like ‘oppressed woman’, with its own set of rules. The flesh-and-blood woman is trapped within these categories.
A melange of real and fictionalised characters, who are but voices, the world of ‘Drama Queen’ is all too familiar. He may not be called Karan Johar but many of us have a snobbish gay friend who is waiting for his Mr Right.
There is at least one Ram Gopal Varma in everyone’s life who has sent a “Will You Marry Me?” text only to make a joke of it later. If empathy for the protagonist is the mark of a play’s success (sorry, Brecht!), Drama Queen notches a high score here. The form of the play is refreshing as the monotony of the solo act is mitigated by a skilfully executed sound design. The tic-tac of voices is almost impeccable. It is the interaction with voices, literal and metaphorical, that elevates this simple story-line played against a simple backdrop.
Krishnamoorthi’s act segues with ease from the complexity of human relationships to the fear of loneliness, from the pressure of doing that one right thing in love which will make everything fall in place to the slow learning that happiness and life’s worth are located within. Being her sassy self, she agreed to be a love-guru for The Quint and we certainly can learn from the gyaan she gives on how to flirt right, say NO, and survive heartbreaks. In the times of Weinsteins and “feeble No,” these candid lessons can become useful life-hacks.
Cameraperson: Sanjoy Deb
Video Editor: Kunal Mehra
Additional Footage Credit: AGP World
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.