Aruna's Sonata

Anindita Mukherjee as ARUNA. PC: Ashima Yadava

Anindita Mukherjee as ARUNA. PC: Ashima Yadava


Most of us make many friends throughout the course of our lives. With the advent of social networks like Facebook and Whatsapp, the total friend tally may rank in the hundreds, and for some in the thousands. However, there is that select handful of friends we invariably turn to when we need a shoulder to lean on or simply to reminisce.  With respect to this category of friends, the words of the famous author Judy Blume especially ring true, “We are friends for life. When we’re together the years fall away. Isn’t that what matters? To have someone who can remember with you? To have someone who remembers how far you’ve come?”

Mahesh Elkunchwar’s  play Sonata, is a tribute to this bond of friendship that binds three women, Aruna, Dolon and Subhadra. The play gives us a glimpse into a mundane Sunday evening in the lives of these friends. As the evening progresses and the conversation flows with the wine, we get to know the friends better.  Their shared history, idiosyncrasies, aspirations, fears, failures and vulnerabilities are revealed through clever, witty dialogue laden with innuendo. The play is bold yet sensitive. The characters are complex, flawed, real and lovable and are bound to resonate with the audience.

I will be essaying the role of Aruna Ranade, a no-nonsense Sanskrit professor. From the very first time that I read the script, I was impressed that the play is centered around an unconventional and underrepresented demographic in popular media.  I was even more surprised to learn that the play was written in 2001. Barring the occasional frivolous Hollywood film based on the exploits of “BFFs” on their girls’ night out or a wild vacation, the lives of strong, independent women in their 40’s has not really been a topic explored in meaningful literary works.

As the rehearsals progressed, the underlying layers started to peel away and I was blown away by the depth of the dialogues. I was able to relate to all three women in varying degrees.  I could see shades of their persona reflected in myself. I felt I have walked in their shoes at different points in my own life.

To me, Aruna, Dolon and Subhadra are metaphors for the three parts of a Sonata.  Different as they are, when they come together, they form a rich and beautifully textured melody that is bound to linger in the minds of the audience.

Aruna, the consummate professor, is guilty of speaking in quotes and I would be remiss if I did not share one in conclusion.

“The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when.” - Simon Sinek

Cheers to friends, old and new!

– Anindita Mukherjee

Basab Pradhan