Review: Broken Images [Performed by Shabana Azmi]

Posted on Jun 7th, 2010 by Shuchi in Reviews, Solo Acts

Broken Images "How will Broken Images compare to Bikhre Bimb?" was the question uppermost in my mind when I stepped in to watch Alyque Padamsee’s version of the play at Chowdiah this Friday.

To give you a brief history, Broken Images is based on Odakalu Bimba, a hugely popular Kannada play written by Girish Karnad. The play opened in March 2005 as Ranga Shankara’s first production. It was directed by Girish Karnad and enacted in two languages at that time: Kannada, with Arundhati Nag as lead actor, and English (The Heap of Broken Images), with Arundhati Raja as lead actor. The play was later translated to Hindi (Bikhre Bimb), also enacted by Arundhati Nag.

Bikhre Bimb in its various avatars has seen scores of shows in Bangalore over the years, received awards and rave reviews.

Given the play’s renown in Bangalore’s theatre circuit, Broken Images had a lot to live up to. 

Did it deliver? My answer is a resounding Yes!

Broken Images retains the play in more on less original form tweaking only the peripherals. Manjula Nayak, Kannada short-story writer, becomes Manjula Sharma, Hindi short-story writer. The geography is now Gurgaon and Kamla Nagar instead of localities in Bangalore (because of which the gag about Koramangala had to be sadly sacrificed). Manjula’s sari (forgive me for being trivial ;)) is orange rather than green.

The progression of the play – Manjula’s TV interview, her volatile emotional states, and the sequence of events and revelations that follow – is the same as in the original.

The set in this production gives Manjula more options for sitting – other than the TV studio table and chair, there’s a leather couch and a seat below the TV set, on which Manjula parks herself towards the end. The closing sequence in which the "broken" of the title takes literal shape, is very interestingly done. 

A major draw of the play is the star playing its lead role – Shabana Azmi. I hold Arundhati Nag’s performance in Bikhre Bimb in the highest esteem and wondered if I could like anyone else playing Manjula. I need not have had any such qualms – Shabana Azmi is marvellous. Her Manjula seems like a different creature, more subdued than Arundhati Nag’s. Where Arundhati’s Manjula screams her surprise and cackles over her husband’s silliness and sighs like you can hear her heart break, Shabana’s Manjula raises her voice only a notch, laughs and cries with the restraint of a woman not given to extravagant displays of emotion. And yet, both are so real – it is fascinating that the same character can get fleshed out in unique ways by two talented actors.

For more about the play, read my notes on Bikhre Bimb. I think Broken Images is most effective if you have no prior knowledge of the plot – so won’t say more except to urge you to go watch it!

Author Image

Article by Shuchi

Shuchi lives in Bangalore (mostly), when she isn’t traveling out of town for work. She adores theatre and writes about plays she watches whenever she gets a chance.

Other posts by
Twitter Facebook Shuchi on Google+

4 Comments to “Review: Broken Images [Performed by Shabana Azmi]”

  1. Thanks for pointing out the error on my post. Incidentally i was watching a Noam Chomsky criticism of blogging as an act. He was pointing out that blogs throw up more wrong information to the researcher than right. How right he was.. i did not have to go too far, but to come to my own. Thanks for pointing out

    June 8th, 2010 8:52 pm

  2. Hi lash, That was a very minor pedantic point, don’t worry about it. Why just blogs, the entire internet throws up wrong information more than right.

    I’d love to watch Noam Chomsky talk of blogging – is the link to it available online?

    June 8th, 2010 10:20 pm

  3. You will have to look up “Noam Chomsky – Philosophies of Language & Politics” on

    Long talk but worth it.


    February 27th, 2011 8:09 pm

  4. Images are mostly suggestive and symbolic.The title of the play is borrowed from T S Eliot’s ‘Waste Land’
    “Images in the play are those that one obviously relates to. These are the images that have an impact on people’s lives everyday. These are images that are absurd to ignore,” Karnad says.
    A Heap of Broken Images presents urban Indian society with its fascination for technology. It’s a beautiful presentation of the author’s dilemma as well as the crisis of identity.

    April 16th, 2014 4:25 pm

Leave me a comment