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200th Performance of "The Vagina Monologues" Raises Funds and Awareness in Mumbai, India


Wednesday, March 25, 2009 was a day of celebrations for the cast and crew of the theatrically brilliant and socially essential show The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. Brought to India by Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal and Kaizaad Kotwal in 2003, the play staged its 200th stage performance last evening at the Tata Theatre, NCPA followed by a soiree at Olive Bar and Kitchen, Mahalaxmi. The main event helped raise funds for 3 groups (and related individuals) all working towards ending violence against women. The after party was to raise a toast and celebrate the success of The Vagina Monologues and V-Day 2009.

The special show was performed by the original, brave Vagina Warrior actors - Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, Dolly Thakore, Sonali Sachdev, Avantika Akerkar, and Jayati Bhatia. Supporting the V-Day initiative this year were 3 of the film fraternities most sought after talents - Imran Khan, Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar also lent their voices and flair to the evening.

The show, compeered by Sid Makkar (Luck by Chance) and Nairika Kotwal Cornett began on a rather melodious note with a song performed by Vishal Asrani. It was followed with a spectacular dance piece put together by Sandip Soparkar who was accompanied on stage by 2 splendid dancers - Jesse Randhawa and Smiley Suri. The dance depicted the life, sorrow and pain experienced by Haseena Hussain, a victim of an acid attack by a male colleague who took umbrage at her rejection and a torchbearer today trying to raise awareness about acid attacks and fighting violence against women.

Loveleen Tandon, co-director of Slumdog Millionaire attended the play as a chief guest. She lit the inaugural lamp and also gave the audience the VDAY Address including the movement’s focus on the Congo this year. Loveleen Tandon also read a special message from Eve Ensler to the audience followed by the poem Baptized also written by the playwright. The purpose and motive to host the play and launch V-Day was highlighted as Haseena Hussian was awarded and felicitated for her courage to lift herself up, starting a business of her own! When Haseena Husain told the audience that this was the first time she had left the house in ten years because of her horrendous scarring, the audience rose and gave her a standing ovation for almost five minutes. Dr. Armida Fernandez & Dr. Nayreen Daruwalla accepted a donation on behalf of their Center for Vulnerable Women and Children in Dharavi, the second largest slum in the world. The Center provides all the necessary medical and legal aid to victims of violence and works harder at trying to prevent and end the violence in the first place.

Farhan and his sister Zoya read a heart felt thoughts specially penned by Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal titled - In India: Girls Are Meant For Burning And Boys Are All That Matter. Imran Khan narrated two monologues during the evening from A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, edited by Eve Ensler. This was a fantastic debut by all our film actors.

The show was carried forward with the original cast beautifully enacting various monologues like “The Vagina Workshop” and “The Flood”. The performance was interrupted on several occasions by thunderous ovations and at the end a standing ovation. The evening ended with Vishaal Asrani singing Jai Ho! – this year’s Oscar-winner for Best Song (from Slumdog Millionaire) which sent the audience out into the night with the message about the end to violence that, “MAY VICTORY BE YOURS!”

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Natasha Parekh/ Vrinda Mehra