In the Arms of the Other Woman | My Take on ‘Mushk’

Stacked up stones in perfect harmony over a flowing river

My knowledge of the Hindi language is rather borrowed from the sneaked in moments of watching endless series just to get the hang of the language. So, Urdu is the next level for me. There are few Urdu words that I can comprehend and fix to context. But to see a complete Urdu play which made me feel that I have seen the best of wordplay proves my trusted love for languages.

Mushk is a play directed by Kanwal Khoosat
Playwrights Raabia Qadir and Seemal Numan
Music by Zainab Jawwad.

Mushk was a by-mistake viewed play. I was searching for something else and I got caught after the first few lines of the dialogue. I imagine the life of a writer in my mind and there are moments when I don’t want this world to come between me and my writing. So, I hide what I truly write. I hide it in poetry, I hide it in role-play, I hide it in the beauty of the words, I hide it from myself.

Mushk is a wonderful play that borders around relationships that are hard to decipher. Sometimes, love is to not love at all. Those moments of insecurities of exclusiveness and vanishing point of love itself can be hard to accept and take on strides.

Yet within those boundaries of a relationship lies the exquisite truth of human illusion and its acceptance in life. I believed in both the women and my heart went out to both.

But given the culture setting for multiple partners being granted and accepted. The whole conversation between the two women characters goes around in circles just like any other conversation. That fact that I had to parse through the webs of understanding of one circle with the next.  

Every man has a love affair in the intellectual space with the other woman of any married woman’s life, that other woman is a well-maintained secret. This play was very powerful, violent and vulnerable at the same time. For a moment, after the play ended, I had to reinstate where I was. I needed to find the identity of who I was and where I was in the framework of my timeline. I lost it all watching the play.

Both the actors were such exemplary smart artists that it was such joy to watch them given that I couldn’t understand half the words. But I fixed the context as I watched the play. The section on the deer and its musk were so beautiful that I wanted to jump around and nod like a brainless human doll in total agreement with the playwrights.

I didn’t know that I could love a play in a language that I am grappling to understand. Yet it was fulfilling to watch the play. The dialogues were sharp and intelligent. The way the power passed from one vulnerable woman to another was wonderful to watch and to experience while the presence of the singular male was such an inevitable truth.

The reclusive female writer accepted to be interviewed by a staff writer from a magazine almost as if she wanted to discover her love before her swan song is sung. The fact that she has a strong personality and rather a timid feature article writer had nothing in common but the one factor that tied them together and how they cannot part each other is seen in the almost-kiss pose that the play finishes with a bang.

I always loved to watch woman-centric plays.  It gives me the space to see what another person feels and emote towards the woman. Every time I am reminded of the question that I was frightened to ask in public about did woman’s empowerment really exists. I could not express and the public humiliation from shed tears and in my inability to express is still a shame that I hold. I will never forget that press conference back in my past.

Have I come to terms with it! Yes, I have! The memory is happily folded into my past memory packets. I had a nice laugh at the situation now. No one can give you the power to be empowered. You either have it or you don’t.

So, I saw the two women talking about the most important male member in their life with such power in their expression that the interview soon became something else. One was passionate and one was faithful. Yet in the expressions that we found it seemed that one of them was stronger than the other. But the vulnerability of both the woman was glorious to watch.

I found excellent chemistry between the two characters and the fact that a woman’s vulnerability is her true strength, came out beautifully. We should have more plays with just woman characters playing lead roles. ‘Mirch Masala’ of 1987 Hindi movie was one such movie that spoke of woman power which lies in their vulnerability.

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