Finding Nora here
A Doll’s House or Putali ko Ghar? It’s for you to find out
Since its first production in 1879, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House has seen many productions all over the world, each country, each culture interpreting Ibsen’s work in their own respective contexts and languages.
Ibsen has seen a Nepali interpretation too with Sunil Pokharel, director of Aarohan theatre group, having adapted and produced the play (Putali ko Ghar) in a form comprehensible not only linguistically but also culturally. In seeking to carry the text to the Nepali audience in the most comprehensible manner possible, Pokharel has not only searched for Nepali equivalent words, but also attended to the cultural context, thus, removing the “foreignness” of the original text.
Except for the female protagonist Nora, the names of all the characters have been changed — Helmer has become Hemanta, Dr Rank is Dr Rana, Mrs Linde is now known as Lina, and Krogstad answers to Kedar. All these are common Nepali names that we come across in our day-to-day life.
The original play is set just prior to Christmas, while Putali ko Ghar is set during Tihar. Garlands of marigold, lit oil lamps and the deusi-bhailo songs help to make the play our very own, borrowing from our own culture. While Nora in A Doll’s House wants to wrap up the currency notes in pretty gold paper and hang them on the Christmas tree, our Nora wants to put the money in a treasure box and worship the bundle during Laxmi puja. The original Nora munches on macaroons, hiding from her husband, our Nora eats pustakari. We don’t know what the original Nora in hummed, but our Nora hums tunes from old Nepali songs to catchy advertisement jingles that are popular today.
Our Nepali characters are dressed as middle-class Nepali persons in a city would dress. And while Ibsen’s Nora wears a Neapolitan fisher girl’s dress to the fancy dress ball, our Nora wears a Tharu costume.
The doctor suggests Helmer seek the warmer climate of Italy for better health, our Hemanta goes to madhesh, the terai region.
These are some things that help localise the play.
The ending has seen a lot of variations with different productions having given different endings. And Pokharel too has given his own unique ending to Putali ko Ghar. A Doll’s House ends with Nora slamming the door and leaving. In Putali ko Ghar, the audience meets Nora outside the theatre after the play ends lost deep in thought... leaving the play open — does Nora return or does she really leave?
Putali ko Ghar was staged for the first time in August 2003, and till date has been staged
over 100 times worldwide. Pokharel is considering a production of Putali ko Ghar in Newari too, and the way he is going to assimilate the play in the Newari culture is another experience that audience that look forward to. (Putali ko Ghar is being staged at Gurukul everyday at 5:00 pm till July 2)