Arpita Dhagat’s ITEM


Playwright & Director: Arpita Dhagat

Group: Astitva Art Foundation, Ahmedabad

Language: Gujarati

Duration: 1 hr 5 mins

The Play

The play begins by establishing how any girl who grows up in an average middle-class family, is expected to become the son of the family. These girls continue to make an effort to become the son of the family till the point they break down. The women have never been taught how to love themselves or respect their own identity. They are conditioned to follow set standards of beauty as per prevailing popular culture. We, the society, want women to play an expected role and follow all social norms. We become insecure with independent women having their own mind. Thus, the play is a constant juggling of the expected roles and the real self, narrated as a story and popular imagery.

Director’s Note

When we talk about mental health issues, we focus mainly on the younger generation, denying the other sections of the society, especially women home-makers. If a woman is going through any mental illness, it would reflect on the mental health of the whole family. My research topic for NSD fellowship – “The role of theatre as an aid for mental health for women” – made me question the performance language in which I could communicate with larger number of audience and make them realize how the society conditions a person’s psyche and gives it inferiority or superiority complex which causes anxiety and depression. Bollywood, being a popular medium of entertainment and storytelling, reflects the state of the society, builds and breaks many beliefs, and also influences us. Throughout the performance we have questioned the ways in which the women are being portrayed. In pursuit of ideal role model against the real self, one finds that one is losing own voice.

The Director & Playwright

Freelancer Arpita Dhagat is a performer and performance maker, with specialization in design and theatre techniques from National School of Drama, New Delhi. She has worked as a Cultural Outreach Programmer with LEAF Foundation, under which she has curated and coordinated a month-long arts festival, Abhivyakti City Arts Project. Arpita, as an artist, is keen about different mediums of art expression, and has been exploring how it changes the equation between the audience and the artist, and the art work itself, and what scope of interaction it may open up. She is interested in collaborative interdisciplinary art through performances. She is also a founder member of Astitva Art Foundation, which aspires to grow as an inter-disciplinary art school.

The Group

Astitva Art Foundation is a result of artist Navin Dhagat’s vision. It was established in 2002 with the intention to nurture the expression in society. Astitva Art Foundation is a long term commitment in art education for children and interdisciplinary arts. AAF is a group of multi-disciplinary artists coming together and working in the field of theatre and visual arts. The group has also worked as theatre consultant for MGIS (Mahatma Gandhi International School) in Ahmedabad. It has done 21 productions with many shows along with two art residencies and many workshops in Ahmedabad.

Cast & Credits

On Stage: Vaidehi Bhagwat, Pooja Purohit, Harshika Joshi, Dhruti Joshi, Bhoomiti Prajapati, Arpita Dhagat

Off Stage:  Dhruv Pandit, Sangeet Shrivastava, Aarti Zala, Drashti Dhagat, Akshy Thakar

Singer: Prachi Shah

Music Composer: Harshit Acharya

Recording and Mixing: Ocean Harmony

Music Operator: Aarti Zala

Lighting Design: Sangeet Shrivastava

Video Art: Jigna Goaudana, Sumedh Kumar

Set & Props in-charge: Akshy Thakar

Costume in-charge: Drashti Dhagat

Production Manager: Dhruv Pandit

Produced by: Abhivyakti City Arts Project 2018

Concept, Design, Script & Direction: Arpita Dhagat

Manohar Khushalani

Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is a former Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he taught were: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won a total of nine Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Earlier he retired from Government of India as Director Environment Management, Central Water Commission and held many senior positions in the Government Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He was an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

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