The Nautch Girl
Date: December 2014
A tale of passion, exploitation and loss.
Genre: Dance, Drama
A tale of passion, exploitation and loss…
To mark the 400th anniversary of the shared heritage between UK and India, we wanted to create a tale of passion, exploitation and loss by re-imagining Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s masterpiece novel Umrao Jaan Ada.
No one really knows if Umrao Jaan Ada existed. The only record of her existence is from Azizan Bai, a courtesan who claims that she was trained by Umrao. Azizan was later deposed by the British for plotting against them in the first mutiny in 1857.
Zara is a Lucknow trained courtesan, a woman of great charm with the reputation as a brilliant poet, dancer and singer. She catches the eye of a dashing and affluent young Nawab (prince). Their blossoming romance troubles her childhood friend and now her pimp Gauhar. Possessed by mad jealousy, Gauhar manipulates to separate the lovers. Can their love ever be?
We wanted to collaborate with choreographer Sonia Sabri, who is a leading exponent of Kathak dance, to capture the undercurrents of that period in Lucknow and to explore the unspoken emotions of the people from all walks of life. This is the first phase of development that will eventually see our audiences immersed into a world of opulent salons, poetry and flowering jasmine. The sumptuous sets and costumes will evoke the graciousness of 19th century Lucknow culture where courtesans were the epitome of high society.