Kathmandu: A hut, a mound of straw, and a bare tree are bathed in a pale yellow light. We are in Sundar Bazar, somewhere in Tarai. This is the setting of the play “Lati ko Chhora,” currently being staged at Purano Ghar.
Directed and written by Sulakshyan Bharati, the play is an adaptation of Shyam Shah’s story “Abba” from his collection “Lati ko Chhora.”
The play revolves around a woman called Lati (played by Sarita Bhujel); lati is a slur word in Nepali referring to a person who cannot speak.
The powerful people of Sundar Bajar exploit Lati’s inability to speak and hear. They rape Lati and then she gets pregnant. The perpetrators are Bishnath (played by Arun Poudel), Sahi (Subrat Raj Silwal), Master Saheb (Shishir Giri), Agrawal Saheb (Jayaram), and Chandrakant Jha (Ritesh Karki). They make plans to clear their hands off Lati’s pregnancy and save their reputation. They go on to wrongly accuse Dom (Prakash Thapa), an innocent character who belongs to a minority group, of raping Lati.
Bishnath, the perpetrator who is also head of Panchayat, announces the verdict that Dom committed rape against Lati and now he should marry her and move away from the Sundar Bazar. Dom reacts to the verdict with painful aggression. He screams and says that Lati is his sister but his cry goes unheeded. This is how the real perpetrator settles the case in his favor.
This play depicts the story of minorities and their sufferings. It shows how powerful people misuse their power and taunt people from minorities. It shows how collectively the powerful people of Sundar Bajar exploit Lati’s inability to speak and hear and manage to escape from the crime they committed.
All of the characters in the play have done a remarkable job. Despite many of them being new to the theater, they have delivered appreciative acting skills. Bhujel has done a marvelous job as the protagonist. Her body language, attitude, and expressions all feel natural. She has acted as if that’s her real personality.
All of the characters in the play have done a remarkable job. Despite many of them being new to the theater, they have delivered appreciative acting skills.
The characters in the play deliver dialogues in a Madhesi accent. And they sounded very natural. Otherwise, most of the time when anyone attempts a Madhesi accent they exaggerate the tone and make it sound unnatural and irritating but things are different with this play.
There is one character in the play whom we should not forget to mention. He is Lato (Govind Sunar), a middle-aged man with a long beard and eyes with an intense look. Like Lati, he can not speak and hear. Lato represents the kind of person who knows about all the wrongdoings of society but is compelled to not speak about it. Even if he speaks, nobody will listen to him or believe him.
The play features live music. The musicians, Samyak Shrestha and Rajkamal Farkir, play various instruments such as guitar, ukulele, flute, floor tom, and others. They are beautifully played and arranged and have made the play vibrant and natural.
The play comes to an end ten years after the events it tells of. And it has an interesting twist for a climax, which you’d better go find out yourself.
“Lati ko Chhora” will run through January 23 at 4:45 pm everyday at Purano Ghar Theater, in Sinamangal. There will be an additional show on Saturday at 1:00 pm.