The women of FICCI Ladies’ Organization (FICCI FLO Jaipur) were recently treated to an exceptional afternoon of theatre with the evocative play “With Love Aap ki Saiyaara” staged in the Pink City. The play, written, directed and acted by Juhi Babbar Soni, tells the story of the protagonist, Saiyaara, which was conceived by her mother, Nadira Zaheer Babbar, and embodies the spirit of a modern Indian woman who dares to dream big.
Saiyaara defies societal expectations of a docile woman and is portrayed as an urban and fearless individual with a unique perspective on topics such as men and marketing. The play uses a conversational approach to actively engage the audience in Saiyaara’s journey, which makes for a memorable experience.
Despite being born into privilege as the pampered only child of wealthy parents, Saiyaara falls in love with her English professor, who is married and 24 years older than her. He converts to Islam to marry her. What follows is a harrowing tale of suffocation, abuse from her husband’s family, and the strain of a failing marriage. Although Saiyaara’s marriage ends in a nasty divorce, she emerges victorious, thanks to the encouragement of her father, who helps her become a successful jewellery entrepreneur and marry a charming doctor named Nasir.
However, Nasir’s attempts to control her modern ways of dressing, social drinking, and business travel, as well as his extramarital affairs, lead to a strained marriage. The play breaks down Muslim stereotypes and portrays a woman’s journey through love, loss, and empowerment, highlighting how the simple wedding ceremony and easy divorce permitted in Islam can adversely affect women of every social stratum.
Despite being a successful entrepreneur and independent-thinking woman, Saiyaara showcases a beautiful contrast in her persona with her love for poetry, nature, and old Lata Mangeshkar songs. During the lockdown, she finds solace in writing her memoir, which becomes a bestseller. She is then approached by a company that wants to make a web series on her book but push her to add more ‘masala’ to it.
The screen displays photographs of the men in her life, and the audience is left to imagine the encounters, including the funny ones of men hitting on a divorcee they imagine as an easy target. The play deserves a closer look as it showcases different aspects of society, be it positive, comical, or shocking. “With Love Aap Ki Saiyaara” celebrates friends, parents, love, and hope. It serves as a poignant reminder that even those born into privilege can face struggles, but with determination and self-belief, one can emerge victorious.
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