Naina is every woman. Kind. Caring. Thoughtful. Loving. Undeniably devoted to her family. Willing to do anything to protect her flock. To the casual observer, she has the perfect life. A driven, hard working husband. Two beautiful children. A cozy, inviting home. But this immaculate facade slowly disintegrates as the threads of her seemingly enviable existence come apart. Naina is faced with existential questions that she has never dreamed of asking herself before. Questions that she must answer on her own for the first time in her life. She must draw inner strength from a place she didn't know existed. Her journey is every woman's search for her identity. South Asian, South African, South American...it doesn't matter. The issues are universal.
Basab's Naina has come a long way from the Nora imagined by Ibsen but there is much ground left to cover. Particularly when we place her in the cultural and traditional context of our Indian societal norms which most of us take for granted. Patriarchy is seen in varying and sometimes indiscernibly subtle shades everywhere- even in the most affluent, educated, so-called liberal households.
Is Naina the woman her parents raised her to be? Does her religious paradigm define her? Are her opinions her own? Has she ever given careful consideration to her outlook, her perspective, her world view? Or did she slip into them simply because of what was always expected of her from her father and her husband? Because of what is socially acceptable? The path of least resistance. Has she ever stopped to consider what matters to her? Or has pleasing everyone around her become so ingrained and inextricably intertwined with her notion of herself that she can't separate her own needs and wants from those of the people she loves? Was she ever a co-equal in her marriage? Can she ever be until she is complete in her own eyes?
There are so many questions. Questions that every one of us needs to think about. As mothers and fathers. As husbands and wives. This isn't a play about feminism. This is a play about humanism. And an individual's ultimate quest for an identity. The need to be understood and accepted simply for who we are. Man or woman.
– Sindu Singh