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Awareness through Theater: Good Food, Better Plays and a Great Cause

October 2006
Awareness through Theater: Good Food, Better Plays and a Great Cause

The Annie Farooqui Fund presented its first Desi Dinner Theater in Atlanta on Saturday, September 16, 2006. The two plays presented focused on South Asian women's choices at crisis-inflicted cross-roads in life. Played and portrayed superbly by some of Atlanta's best known theatre talent included Sunny Sachdeva, Darshan Kaur, Navin Tyagi and Meenakshi Mehta as well as commendable performances by Rafiq Batcha, Toral Shah and Hiral Patel. The two plays came to life deliciously split on two sides of a sumptuous feast engaging both intellectual and epicurean appetites.

In Badalte Rishte, Aarzoo, an independent woman is torn between a handsome but possessive fianc� and her dream. She makes the easier but far more erosive choice in life; with which the audience vehemently disagreed. To balance the gravity of the subject matter presented, the play was speckled with impromptu dance and song delivered like a pro by the pleasing dark and handsome, Rafiq Batcha.

The courtship romance that makes her think and rethink her choices again was shown in alternate scenes to contrast the mood just as Hiral, a newcomer changed her outfits to contrast how she felt in a scene. The rest of the world symbolized in the friend Armaan, played by the comforting Amit Lilani, who tries to show her the right path but confusion remains predominant.

The play successfully staged that no amount of logic can win over an illogical practice of complete submission from one partner just to maintain status quo in a relationship.

In Meri Zindagi Mera Faisla, the not so uncommon situation of marrying to get a Green Card was skillfully portrayed by the dashing Sunny Sachdeva as an evil husband who expects his loyal and trusting wife, played perfect to the tune by veteran actress, Darshan Kaur, to sponsor him despite open infidelity. Toral Shah was quite convincing as the sultry other woman. But as parents of the boy in the two plays, Navin Tyagi and Meenakshi Mehta, gave incomparable performances reminiscent of parental roles in the popular Hindi movies, Veer Zara and Fanaa. The play provided a deeper insight into how entire families are tortured in such situations and how much courage it takes for a woman to stand up for herself. The exuberant ending was applauded by everyone. In all, the audience could see how everyone from those managing the props (place the tree, move the tree and repeat!) to those managing sound and subtitles, had spent an extraordinary amount of time in putting up the show. Sandeep Savla's music, and the well-thought-out concurrent subtitle display in English were a fitting accompaniment to theater. All the hard work of the volunteers for the Fund could hardly go unnoticed.

The Annie Farooqui fund has certainly shown Atlanta how a few people can think of something that will make a difference and the chemistry between the cast and crew was unmistakable as they all joined hands for this great cause. Awareness through theatre was a medium well-explored.

As Aqsa pointed out in her speech, she wanted to show people that such situations are part of every day life, and in creating that awareness, she continues to fight for the same cause as her mother, Annie for whom the Annie Fund (a subsidiary of Raksha) is named. For more information and to lend a hand, please visit www.anniefund.com

~ Babs Sachdeva

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