The legendary grand dame of the Indian theatre, Shabana Azmi, is returning to London in a topical new play that speaks to the fears and anxieties our age.
Directed by Alyque Padamsee, ‘Broken Images’ is a psychological thriller about identity, the politics of language the all-pervasive nature of technology and social media in 21st Century life and is adapted from the acclaimed 2004 Kannada play ‘Odakalu Bimba’ by the renowned playwright Girish Karnad.
Azmi essays the central character of Manjula Sharma, a marginally successful Hindi short-story writer who finds overnight fame and fortune after writing a best-seller in English.
Her new-found success however, leads to a smorgasbord of conflict within Manjula as she begins to question her own competence and whether she has betrayed her own language and identity, leading to her own “mirror image” playing confessor, psychoanalyst and inquisitor.
The character of Manjula is a dual role that demands exceptional technical skills from Azmi and during performances in Mumbai in recent weeks she has showcased those skills to an extraordinary level - capturing the nuances of Manjula’s conflicts with formidable clarity.
She has received widespread praise for her performance with critics describing her as “marvellous” and “utterly stimulating”.
The award-winning filmmaker Mira Nair said: “Broken Images is cleverly written and wonderfully performed. I don’t know how Shabana Azmi does it. The timing is excellent!”
Azmi herself has described the play as one which she immediately embraced, saying that despite realizing the technical challenges inherent in the role, it “propelled her on” to take on the role.
‘Broken Images’ is presented by BAITHAK UK and the Bagri Foundation, the former an arts organization which has brought Shabana Azmi to UK audiences for the past decade.
“Baithak UK is proud to step into its tenth year presenting Shabana Azmi, a legendary icon from the Indian stage and screen. We are delighted to work with our principal partners, the Bagri Foundation, to celebrate International Women’s Day and India at 70 with the London premier of Girish Karnad’s ‘Broken Images’”, said Dr Sangeeta Datta, Artistic Director of Baithak UK.
“BAITHAK UK showcases the grand legacy of South Asian arts, encourages cultural dialogue and offers an unique artistic experience for the audience. We are excited to showcase an artist known for her social activism and belief in social change through the performing arts. It is a big step forward for us at BAITHAK and we would like to thank all our creative artists, partners and supporters over the years”, she added.
Dr Alka Bagri, from the Bagri Foundation, said: “The Bagri Foundation is delighted to collaborate with Baithak UK, who share our passion of promoting the richness of the arts of South Asia, in presenting the UK premiere of Broken Images with Shabana Azmi. Theatre plays a vital role in enabling us to understand the human psyche as it
turns a mirror onto ourselves, and to offer social commentary. The stage is a platform for creativity and self-expression as well as a revelator.”
‘Broken Images’ is at London’s Logan Hall on 12 March.
The performance will be followed by a Q&A with Ms Azmi.
For tickets, visit www.chillitickets.com/events/6152/broken-images
Praise for ‘Broken Images’ and Shabana Azmi
"Cleverly written. Wonderfully performed. Don't know how Shabana Azmi does it.. The timing is excellent."
- Mira Nair (Film Maker), New York
"Engaging and clever. It's a treat to watch Shabana Azmi perform."
- Evan Yiounulis (Theatre Director), New York
"Stupendous. I'm speechless..I bow to Shabana Azmi.
- Dr Satish Vyas (Sculptor/Singer), Detroit
‘Broken Images’ Synopsis
Two sisters, one an intellectually brilliant paraplegic, the other a plodding writer, live under the same roof, dependent on each other, but inhabiting different emotional as well as linguistic worlds, English and Hindi. The arrangement is fraught not only because the sisters are involved with the same man, but because as they respond to life together, and separately, they continually modify the image they have of each other and the world around. The twenty-first century is an era of electronic images. From every corner of our daily life images fling themselves at us, arguing, accusing, wheedling, until the very essence of our private existence seems threatened. But suppose the deadliest of these images were one’s own shattered self? Shabana Azmi plays both the sisters on stage and their many images, as they morph into one another, in one of the most challenging roles of her career.
Starring Shabana Azmi
Written by Girish Karnad
Directed by Alyque Padamsee
Produced Raell Padamsee
Shabana Azmi – India’s greatest living entertainer-activist.
The five-time National Award-winning actress blazed a trail through Indian cinema in the 1970’s and 1980’s, dominating mainstream and alternative cinema alike, in the process working with India’s greatest filmmakers, from the legendary Satyajit Ray through Shyam Benegal to Deepa Mehta and J P Dutta. Off screen, she has become renowned for her activism on issues such as Women’s Rights, Birth Control and Aids Awareness in India. It is appropriate then that she will be in London during the week of International Women’s Day, 09th March.
About The Bagri Foundation UK
The Bagri Foundation is a UK registered charity whose principal aims include the advancement of literacy, education and the arts, as well as the appreciation and understanding of Asian cultures. The Foundation runs rich and diverse cultural programmes and collaborates with other organisations to make the art sphere more accessible to all. Find out more at: www.bagrifoundation.org
About Baithak UK
Baithak UK is a not for profit arts company dedicated to promote the legacy of South Asian culture in the UK. Baithak UK invests in standards of excellence, encourages cross arts engagement, offers a forum for dialogue, debate and nurtures new work with younger artists. Baithak has presented cultural icons Sharmila Tagore, Javed Akhtar, Om Puri, Uday Bhawalkar, Bireshwar Gautam, Pramita Mallick and their workshops/masterclasses have engaged and benefited its audiences.