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    Rani Lakshmi Bai takes centrestage in Theatre Nishaa��s newest play

    Strong or weak, a devi or mortal, women have been the topic of discussion for a while now. And though V Balakrishnan of Theatre Nisha states that he didna��t pen his new play with these debates in mind, we cana��t help but think how the theme of his latest, on the Rani of Jhansi, is just right for the current milieu. a�?Gallantly Fought the Queen is my eighth one-woman play, and not all of my characters have been strong women (like Mata Hari),a�? begins the director. a�?But they are all women who lived their lives on their own terms, which is what I want to highlight,a�? he elaborates. To be staged this weekend, Rani Lakshmi Bai will be played by Meera Sitaraman.

    As always, Balakrishnana��s research is impeccable. a�?There is a lot of literature on her, but much of it borders on fiction a�� from comics to books for kids,a�? he shares. The play begins in 1853, when Lord Dalhousie evokes the doctrine of lapse to take her kingdom away, and then follows the four big battles a�� of Orcha, Jhansi, Kalpi and Gwalior, where she became the rallying point for those seeking freedom. For Sitaraman, the role was a challenge. But, at the end of the day, she says ita��s just a young woman defining what is best for her, her son and her kingdom. a�?I cana��t get into her shoes, but no matter what the era, the most basic human conflicts are the same,a�? says the actress.
    April 8 (7.30 pm) and April 9 (3.30 and 7.30 pm), at Ranga Shankara. Tickets (Rs 200) on bookmyshow.com
    a��Surya Praphulla Kumar

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