ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Mighty Women,Tough Roles

Two recent stage productions breathe life into the fiery times and passions of two outstanding, trenchantly independent women, Akhtari Begum and Amrita Pritam.

Akhtari Begum and Amrita Pritam are just two of theiconic women of the late 1950s and 1960s whom we are beginning to rediscover and comprehend. While one reached the heights of performance in Hindustani classical music, the other was a doyen of Punjabi literature. The layers of social prejudice and ridicule that they faced and the very singular lives they led, are now the subject matter of two new plays that seek to position them in the tumultuous times they lived in, and examine how their questioning of gender stereotypes broke many barriers, forever.

Among others of the same generation, Amrita Sher Gill, painter extraordinaire, daughter of a Hungarian opera singer and a Sikh father, who was a Persian and Sanskrit scholar, was another trailblazer. She used her western academic training in art to re-present the Indian peasant. She also led a personal life of unfettered freedom. And then there is Ismat Chughtai, recently re-discovered for many of us by Naseeruddin Shah’s mounting of her short stories. Another woman, another iconoclast, like her contemporary, Manto.

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