Shabana’s Stunning Performance at SAHARA Function
By Nirupa Sejpal Parmar
Shabana Azmi won accolades for her performance in “Broken images – the scandal behind a world famous novelist”, a drama
presented by the South Asian Helpline & Referral Agency
Los Angeles, CA: Shabana Azmi ’s interpretation of Girish Karnad ’s play “Broken images – the scandal behind a world famous novelist” helped raise around $250,000 for mending many a battered woman’s broken life as the community congregated at the Japan America Theater here on October 24 to witness her stunning performance culminating in a well-deserved standing ovation. The drama was presented by the South Asian Helpline & Referral Agency (SAHARA).
The 60-minute presentation of the one-woman play which Shabana Azmi has described in one of her interviews as a “psychological thriller” directed by Alyque Padamsee and produced by Raell Padamsee provided the scope for the actress to showcase her immense histrionic talent and her versatility to convey every conceivable human emotion.
It starts with her playing the part of an animated Manjula Sharma, a Hindi novel writer, who has suddenly gained overnight international fame with a book in English. The curtains open to her being interviewed on TV at which she explains why she, a novelist in Hindi, had decided to switch to writing in English. The mood gently begins to shift into somber gear as the she begins to relate the circumstances under which she had got into writing the book. The sparkling, humorous Sharma gradually begins to crack and her disposition slips through stages of annoyance, anxiety, jealousy, anger, hate until it ends with a dramatic climax which brought the entire crowd to its feet as one with several waves of applause ringing through the packed hall.
The script of “ Broken Images” is crisp with the dialogue flowing effortlessly which Shabana Azmi handles with her characteristic ease and fluency. With just spartan furniture for a TV studio setting all she has is an electronic character on the TV monitor to converse with, a feat that required split second timing to maintain the flow. Even as the plot begins to thicken there are clever lines thrown in to lighten the atmosphere which Azmi delivered to perfection. In the midst of a particularly tense sequence, it was amusing when her character drew her most voluble laugh from the audience with the remark about her husband - “like all other Indian husbands is caring but useless” - which prompted Azmi to admit at the end of the performance that even she was surprised with that spontaneous response from the audience. She also paid tribute to Girish Karnad, addressing him as one of the most gifted and talented writers of our time.
Earlier the event opened with a VIP reception and SAHARA President, Rekha Bajaria opening the proceedings of the 19th annual fundraiser. Director of Communications & Outreach, Nirupa Sejpal-Parmar, provided a quick flashback of the history of SAHARA and the magnitude was understood when it was learned that since January 2007 the organization has received over 54,000 phone calls for help and has in turn made over 57,000 calls. The organization has assisted 458 domestic violence survivors over the past three years and to date this year it has helped 95 clients and provided shelter to 10 adults and 3 children. A short video followed introducing the various members of the Board and the roles they played in the organization.
After the play actor Sendhil Ramamurthy and Azmii presented a memento to the Chief Guest of the evening, Dr Meher Fatima Tabatabai. Tabatabai appealed to everyone to donate generously because SAHARA was not just another organization but one which was sorely needed by the community to provide hope and assistance to helpless women to get back on their feet with dignity.
Many staunch supporters were recognized. Dr Vinod and Jayshree Jivrajka surprised all when he announced he was donating $50,000 to SAHARA which delighted Azmi and President Rekha Bajaria. National promoter of the play, Ketki Parikh of Vachikam was also recognized.
The fund raising efforts continued at a glittering dinner hosted by Nandini and Deepak Chopra at which Chopra played the role of an auctioneer for items that ranged from jewelry to Laker tickets. Syed Qaisar Madad and Dr Meher Fatima Tabatabai set the ball rolling announcing they were also going to donate $50,000 even before the bidding commenced. Chopra gave $6,000.