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«Victimization, aggression and sexism in Vijay Tendulkar’s works IJIFR/ V2/ E2/ 010 339-345 English Paper ID Page No Subject Area Vijay Tendulkar, ...»

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Play Paper

Victimization, aggression and sexism in Vijay

Tendulkar’s works

IJIFR/ V2/ E2/ 010 339-345 English

Paper ID Page No Subject Area

Vijay Tendulkar, Unmitigated Violence, Mutual Interactions, Human Character, Evil

Key Words

Inherent, Realistic Display, Projection Play, Torture,Victimization, Helpless Woman

Ph. D Research Scholar

Raj Kumar. M

Karpagam University, Coimbatore Principal (Retd.), Dr. Mummachi Rathinam Arts and Science College, Coimbatore.

Abstract Vijay Tendulkar is a leading contemporary Indian playwright. He is the author of thirty full length plays, several of which have become classics of modern Indian theatre. Over the last few decades, he has scanned the life, life-world of contemporary Indian in order to identify the sources and nature of the violence that had to pattern it. Even when violence is not ostensibly his theme, it casts a shadow on his characters. It is unjust to read his entire work as a commentary on violence. Effective handling of themes and successful delineation of characters realized through setting, costumes and light and sound effects render the play’s violence vivid, sensational, and impressive. To put it briefly, they breathe realism.

1 Introduction In The Vultures Vijay Tendulkar displays on the stage, the unmitigated violence arising from greed and immorality. It portrays the domestic violence caused by greed. The selfishness and greed of human beings are the main issues of the play. The characters in the play are ever ready to cheat one another to get more money. The eternal battle between good and evil features strongly in his plays.

Evil is sometimes manifested directly. Evil people in Tendulkar’s plays are selfish, self-centered and incapable of love. They are frequently hypocrites. The vulturine nature dominates the relations of middle class family in The Vultures. The play is an extremely powerful tale of brutal violence and terrible greed. The play shocked them, as Tendulkar used the language which was not normally used on the stage. In the play Rama and Rajaninath are the characters representing ‘good’ in the play, which the other characters representing ‘evil’ do not hesitate to kill one another for money.

2 Mutual interactions The play Vultures is intensely morbid in the portrayal of its character and action. It exposes greed, violence, selfishness, sensuality and wickedness inherent in human nature through mutual interactions of the members of the family. All the members of the family except Rama and Rajaninath are leading a kind of life that is comparable to that of vultures only. They inherit the baser qualities from their

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father who cheats his own brother in business and acquires prosperity and affluence. Thus, the sons and the daughter follow the footsteps of their father. They all belong to a flock of vultures.

Ramakant, Umakant and Manik are like their father, always ready to cheat one another and resort to extract more money. They do not hesitate to seek each other’s lives to get a larger share of their father’s property. Each one is suspicious of the other and loses the real treasure of life that is, peace of mind. Manik’s statement bears evidence to it. For she says to his sister-in-law Rama. “So, I should leave it (the door) open? Should I? So you can come and strangle me, all of you? It’s because I take care that I’ve survived in this house”.

3 Evil inherent in human character Ramakant and Umakant beat their father when he refuses to give them information about his secret account in a bank. When they could not get money from their sister’s lover, the Raja of Hondur, they manoeuvre to abort her child in anguish by beating her inhumanly. Towards the end of the play, Manik successfully tries to abort the babe in the womb of her sister-in-law to avenge the wrong done to her by brothers. The actions of the character i.e., the beating up of Hari Pitale by his sons, the forced abortion of Manik’s and Rama’s babes by Ramakant and Umakant and by Manik respectively, the hatred that the members of the family have for each other “underline the fundamental evil inherent in human character”.

In the tragedies of Shakespeare the hero is responsible for his own ruin, so we feel pity for him. But in Tendulkar’s play The Vultures the characters are essentially bad, without having a single good quality. Still, we feel sympathy for them, rather than terror, as all these characters appear to be the victims of their own wickedness or viciousness. In their increasing efforts to inflict miseries on others, they make their lives more miserable.

The Vultures shocked the conservative people with its naturalistic display of cupidity, sex and violence. It shows how the capitalistic values destroy human love and relations. Hari Pitale cheats his own brother in business and earns great wealth. His children – Ramakant, Umakant and Manik – inherit his egocentric nature. For money, they do hesitate to kill one another. Manik expresses her fear of being killed to her sister-in-law while telling her why the door of the room is shut.

“So I should leave it open, should I? So you can come and strangle me, all of you? It’s because I take care that I’ve survived in the house!. Think it’s human beings who live here? The door was shut says she!”. She later gives an instance to support her fear, “When I had typhoid last year, far from looking after me, you’d all plotted to put poison in medicine!” (208). Hari Pitale also expresses his disgust for his selfish children. “If I die, it’ll be a release! They’re all waiting for it. But I’m your own father, after all. If I die I’ll sit on your chest! I won’t let enjoy a rupee of it. I earned it all. Now, these wolves, these bullies!”.

4 Blackmailing Ramakant, Umakant and Manik torture their own father in the name of a fake fight among themselves. They succeed in getting the bank balance of their father and spend it on liquor and other luxuries. Ramakant and Umakant try to blackmail the lover of their own pregnant sister. They break her leg in order to prevent her from intimating her lover about their blackmailing. When they learn about her lover’s death, they kick on her belly hard and abort her foetus. Rajaninath, the natural son of Hari Pitale and Rama, the wife of Ramakant, are the only doves in that house of vultures. Frightened by his own legitimate sons, Hari Pitale requests Rajaninath to help him to teach lessons to his sons a lesson. Rama feels more than vexed with her husband who becomes impotent with excessive drinking

and who takes her to several doctors and saints. So, while pouring out agony, she says to Rajaninath:

–  –  –

“It’s not the fault of doctors, of learned men, of saints and sages! It’s not even my fault! This womb’s healthy and sound, I swear it! I was born to become a mother. This soil’s rich. It’s hungry. But the seed won’t take root. If the seeds’ soaked in poison, if it’s weak, feeble lifeless, devoid of virtue-then why blame the soil?”.

5 Character And Chorus He makes love to her and she yields to him as if she were under a spell. She, thus becomes pregnant.

Her husband is happy about his wife’s pregnancy. She feels suffocated in a house of vultures and begs him to consider the change of their residence. But he rejects to see the wisdom of her request owing to his male chauvinism and cupidity. Finally he aborts the foetus of his wife with physical violence when Umakant tells him that his wife committed adultery with Rajaninath. Rajaninath is a poet and comments on the incidents and people. Thus he, like Pranarayan in Encounter in Umbugland, functions both as a character and chorus. The play shows how the greed for money in the capitalistic society makes people cruel, inhuman and loveless.

The play Silence! The Court is in Session earns Vijay Tendulkar a place among the leading Indian playwrights in the late sixties, G.M.Kulkarni, a Marathi critic, observes: Tendulkar succeeds in setting a ‘new form’ by using the new, modern folk, and classical elements simultaneously in his plays. This can be particularly noticed in his plays after the successful presentation of Silence! The Court is in Session (G.M.Kulkarni, “Natakkar Vijay Tendulkar, E.K.Jinkane, Harne Satyakacha, Dec, 1971, 38, translated by the investigator herself). The play Silence! The court is in Session is based on a real incident. The stimulus comes from an amateur group on its way to stage a mock trial in village near Bombay. This play comes as a turning point in Tendulkar’s career. It is a “play within a play” or a “play in the form of a rehearsal”. In it, Tendulkar has raised several questions about love, sex, and moral values present in the society. To expose the hollowness of the middle class morality and dual standards of society, he makes ample use of irony, satire pathos and mock element. The success of the play lies in its universality. The questions raised by Benare, the central character of the play, exist in all ages and societies. Benare is projected as a rebel against the established values of the basically orthodox society. So, in a sense, she may be seen as Tendulkar’s projection of a “New Woman” in the Indian context.

6 Materiality, Infanticide & Defeatism Of The Unsuccessful The action of the play revolves round the character of Leela Benare. She is a lady artist and teacher.

She is frank and open. Very often we are aware of the two worlds in the society. The first world is what we see on the surface (appearance), and the second world is the truth that lies underneath (reality). The world of appearance shows that ‘seems’ to be true, whereas the world of reality shows what actually is true. Learning to distinguish between these two, and not being fooled by outer show, is often what makes the difference between a happy and an unhappy life us. Vanity and pride make people look at the world through a distorting lens, seeing it falsely. Benare exposes the hypocrisy of people and laughs at their faults. The other unhappy members expose her personal life in the same of mock trial. In this play, ‘good is shown defenseless against evil’. Benare cannot stop her humiliation, despite being good and innocent. The other members in the mock-trial do not find fault with Prof.

Damle who is the real culprit and who caused the misery in her life. The inhuman attitude of other characters in the play exposes the human nature. The audience feels sorry for Benare, who loves life so much, feels utterly helpless. Leela Benare is presented as a female protagonist and her role eclipses the roles of her male counterparts. In love, she is cheated twice; first by her maternal uncle and late by Prof. Damle, her loving-companion. However, in the first event, the guilt passes unnoticed and

–  –  –

hence unpolished. But, in the other one, she is caught in a trap, through the cruel game cunningly arranged by her companions, for her love-affair has already been exposed by her pregnancy.

Each time Benare is disillusioned by her male-companions for they love first her body and not he mind. Thinking of Prof. Damle as an “intelligent god” (118), she is sexually involved in a love affair with him. But he too, like her previous lover, is interested in her love just physically. Having fulfilled his sexual love, he turns away, leaving her to suffer her fate in the so-called modern society.

Each time, Benare’s counterparts successfully manoeuvre to victimize her, since she has no backing and support. She is forced to live a lonely, solitary life. So, it is easy for them to treat her as though she were a use and throw object. The tragedy of her life does not end with this only. Miss. Benare becomes an object of ridicule among her companions who pose that they are the upholders of moral values of society. Benare is, therefore, made a scapegoat. She is ill-treated by her colleagues. She suffers at their hands for the offence she has not committed. That is why she does not accept the punishment meted out to her “infanticide” (actually, foeticide).

G.P.Deshpande in his article entitled “Shantata! Court Chalu Ahe”, states: The play “Silence!

The Court is in Session” is highly symbolic in nature. During the court proceedings of the mock-trial, such animals as dogs, a hen, etc. enter the hall. These animals symbolize a complicated situation of innocent, simple, and straight forward women like Miss Benare (i.e. the hen) by cruel persons with dual personality (i.e. the dogs). So, the pursuit of the hen by the dogs symbolically represents Miss.Benare’s inhuman hunt by her fellow companions” (G.P. Deshpande, “Shantata! Court Chalu Ahe: Kahi Vichar”, Satyakartha, 1972, 23).Violence that characterizes most of Tendulkar’s plays makes its appearance felt in this play also. Through the torture of a helpless woman, Tendulkar throws light on the sadist tendencies of the middle-class people. All other characters except Samant fail to achieve the various aims they have in their respective lives, Mr. and Mrs. Kadhikar remain childless, Ponkshe fails to be a scientist, Sukhatme to be a successful lawyer, Karnik to be an actor, and Rokde to gain an independent existence. The dramatist indicates that the defeatism of the unsuccessful, frustrated men forces them to seek vicious pleasure in inflicting miseries on others, particularly those who are simple and innocent. Benare’s rhetorical soliloquy, at the end of the play, suggests that truth always gets suppressed in the proceedings of court, the fountain of justice. That is why Benare’s objections seem to have been drowned by the judge’s cry of silence and the banging of the gavel during the court proceedings. Her tragedy reveals that too much of innocence is unpardonable even in the so-called cultured society. Innocence is punished and cruelty is set free and quite ironically, the play concludes with the words: “The show must go on” (120) 7 Strength, Weaknesses & Bitter Experience In the play Sakharam Binder, Tendulkar once again as in ‘Vultures’ explores violence and sexual lust, deep-rooted in human nature, while projecting the complexity of human nature and human character.

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