A photo from 'Darmiyaan' rehearsals. Image Credit: Supplied

This article was originally written and published in November, when the play was scheduled. It was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances at the time. 'Darmiyaan' is now running at The Junction until December 9.

It’s a he said-she said conundrum. When a CEO of an ad firm is accused of sexual harassment, a committee must determine who’s in the right.

The play ‘Darmiyaan’, which runs at the Junction until December 9, takes on an age-old tussle questioning gender bias, the role of the observer and how paradigms are determined by experiences.  

The play, based on the Hindi movie ‘Inkaar’, calls for serious reflection. Saif Khan, who has adapted and directed this Hinglish drama, says it’s time to discuss the glue that holds the fabric of society together – the collective conscious. “I feel, Dubai theatre audience is now ready to experience something bold and exclusive. We are ready to experience more contemporary stories which are relatable. Where people can find some part of themselves in it. It definitely resonates more,” he says.

He uses a non-linear storytelling technique to layer the show with nuance. “I have used the past and present transition technique in this story. This is my way of directing a play. I like to show the past and present on the same stage side by side for the audience to resonate with the story. This play is technically very difficult [to pull off] due to the split second change in lights.”

Rashmi Kotriwala

Rashmi Kotriwala, who plays Mrs. Kaamdaar, a social worker who heads the committee, says the power of the plot comes from not knowing until the very end who is right and who is gaming the system. “Most stories told about sexual harassment or crimes against women tell us definitely who the aggressor and victim is. This story, however, refrains from doing that.

“It gives two perspectives and displays both sides of biases, it explores many sides of the man-woman relationship in the modern context. In a competitive workplace colleagues can easily develop close bonds which affect their careers and the quality of their output. There are pulls and pressures that influence everything. There are other onlookers in such an environment and each has his own biases and opinions which lead them to choose sides. This is a fairly layered script and the pace is quick,” she adds.

For as much as this may confuse and challenge a viewer’s own prejudices it also requires introspection from the players. “Every actor needs to draw references from their own life experiences and the stories around them. Gender disparity and discrimination, subtle and obvious disregard against women happen ever so often in work places. I have experienced it and so have most others I know. However the opposite can also be true,” explains Kotriwala.

The showcase may cause you to lean to one side or the other until it’s reveal time, but Khan warns of disappointment if you come prepared for just one truth. He says: “The audience should just come and watch this masterpiece without any reservations in their head. Come and find out yourself who is lying and who is saying the truth.”

This is a he said-she said confrontation. But it’s also an insight into you.

Don’t miss it!

Tickets to see ‘Darmiyaan’, which runs at the Junction from December 7-9 at 7.30pm, start at Dh80.