A narration of the story of the king who was cursed with transitioning into a woman every new moon night and the repercussions of the same on his kingdom, his love and family, by the common folk of the ladies compartment of a local train highlights some pertinent issues while at the same time completely underplays the more discreet ones. Although the enactment of the story succeeds in captivating the audience with its playful music track and enthusiastic dance sequence depicting the transition from masculinity to femininity, it does lack a certain pulse during the ‘in-between’ phases of the king. The director questions society’s straight-jacketed interpretation of the gender identity and the stereotypes but at the same time fails to deal with society’s take on the third-gender or the lack of a gender identity altogether. However, given the time constraint one can be persuaded to believe that every issue could not have a moment in the spotlight and one needs to give the benefit of the doubt, to the director and the cast as well.
Two things about the play that were most appealing were the contemporary narration, making it possible for the audience to stay connected with the story throughout and the presentation of highly prominent social notions in a lighter vein, which ensured that each message was put forth to the audience but at the same time its irrationality was mocked and ridiculed. Moreover, the cast did full justice to the script, enabling each character to have a full-bodied and vibrant personality. Be it the gracefulness while portraying the transition of the man to a woman via dance, the subtle reference to possible homosexuality or the delicate yet over the top nuances of falling in love, the actors (both male and female) kept this particular audience captivated from start to the finish.
Overall, ILA is definitely a play to be recognised and appreciated. It tells a powerful story and does succeed in bringing highly discussed relevant issues to the fore in a manner that was not overbearing. Given the base of the story however, there was potential to delve into deeper and less widely acknowledged issues as well. Having said that, kudos to the team for putting up a beautiful rendition of a highly thought provoking story.