Playwright Meher Pestonji: Feeding Crows

The small Parsi community has often presented a universal picture, albeit with the help of Parsi writers. The latest voice to join this force belongs to Meher Pestonji. This Mumbai-based writer’s play Feeding Crows has emerged as the runner-up of BBC’s International Radio Playwriting Competition and the winner for the South Asia segment.

“I came to know about it last week,” says Pestonji, a journalist-turned-writer. She calls Feeding Crows a multi-layered play with a string of urban issues woven in. The play, however, is not new to the Mumbai audience. A dramatised reading of the play was presented at the National Gallery of Modern Art and Kitab festival last year.

Quite a few eyebrows were raised then as the play questioned the validity of the last rites of the Parsis. Though Feeding Crows interweaves the story of an upwardly mobile Parsi couple and their devoted but traditional domestic help with the changing ethos of life in contemporary Mumbai, Pestonji says that the stories of other communities too are mentioned.

Dolly Thakore, who directed the dramatised reading, calls Feeding Crows a very “unusual” play. “It provides an insight into the community. But the subject is very sensitively tackled without Meher kowtowing to the authorities,” says Thakore. She considers Pestonji’s achievement very special as English theatre of India hasn’t gained much recognition abroad.

Thakore confesses that she would love to direct the play for a stage production. “However, certain parts of the play have to be fleshed out to make it work on stage,” she added. The playwright too hopes that the win will bring forward sponsors for the staging of the play. This happens to be her second play after Piano for Sale.

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