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NOTE FROM THE SERIES EDITOR by Dr. Sourav Banerjee
TMYS Review, a quarterly imprint of www.tellmeyourstory.biz (TMYS), began in 2020 with the vision of popularising stories from personal experiences and academic research. Diverse themes covered under TMYS Review are conscious about documenting women's history of a generation because for every subject, every topic, women have a different story to tell which points towards all those aspects that the society as a whole and people individually must take note and respond to. The effort has been recognised by global thought leaders and universities with their generous participation and/or collaborations. TMYS Review works on sparking gender sensitivity by engaging a community of emerging and established scholars/writers through creative writing and critical thinking. The primary audience comprises of students – the future torchbearers and other literary enthusiasts, who are constantly inspiring and moulding the world with their words.
EDITORIAL By Rianka Sarkar (Project Lead)
“Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains”.
No one can deny this statement of the Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau that society encompasses an individual. Whether we adhere to the medians or we rebel, we cannot detach ourselves from the ligature of society and its norms. Every individual has the influence of their culture in the way they think, react and respond. When we talk about art, it has always limned the socio-cultural scenarios as per the perception of the artist, which can open a panorama of speculations. Art is manifested in a wide array of forms like painting, music, dance, literature etc. which reflect the society of its time. In literature, we have modern art which is open to collaborations and experiments, and largely deviates from classical art. Khalil Gibran's The Prophet is a book of 26 prose poetry fables. Gibran parallelly illustrates his poems with his artistic representation. The Malayalam actress Shobhana fuses dance with drama, where she enacts an entire play through her dance moves. Pastiche is another wonderful artistic technique to install an excerpt of a pre-worked artistic form. Modern art and its forms are blurring the lines as such. Rembrandt, the Dutch golden age painter adopted the unique technique of light and shade as a medium of expression. His strokes are profoundly unequivocal in representing different cultural forms. All of them testify the fluidity of art having no margins.
JATRA – A Journey in Piety
Poet: Urmi Chakravorty
Bionote: Urmi Chakravorty is a military spouse and former educator who has imbibed lasting life lessons from both her roles. As a guest contributor, her discerning articles, stories and poems have found space in The Hindu, The Times of India, and multiple web platforms. Many of them have won her accolades, and several have found a home in prose and poetry anthologies, both in digital and print versions. She is the proud recipient of the Orange Flower Awards, 2022, instituted by Women’s Web, for writing on LGBTQIA issues. She secured the Second Position in the S7 National Poetry Writing Competition, earlier this year. Reviewing is another area that Urmi finds engaging. Her review of poetry and fiction on literary platforms and on sites like Amazon and Goodreads have garnered popular appreciation. She also dabbles in freelance editing, when time permits. Urmi believes that writing provides the calm to her inner cacophony.
The reedy kaash swaying in its ivory splendour, glances heavenwards
Where white, cushiony tufts fleck the beryl expanse,
The resounding dhaak releases a rapturous rhythm in the bucolic Gangetic surrounds
As ululating women bow before the Goddess in earnest supplication.
At a distance, the open ground resounds in a thunderous applause
As the ‘Divine Flautist’ emerges on stage, playing a ditty sublime,
Evoking bhakti in the hearts of His moist-eyed devotees
As reverberating drum beats and clashing cymbals reach a crescendo!
My Mother and the Atthapoo
Poet: Akhila Mohan CG
Bionote: Akhila Mohan CG is a poet and writer who likes writing free verse and haiku poetry, essays, and short stories. Her works have been published in national and international literary journals, anthologies, and platforms including Scarlet Dragonfly, Whiptail Journal, Failed Haiku, Under the Basho, Juggernaut, TMYS Review, and others. Tamarind: Sweet and Sour Poems about Love, Loss, Longing, and Life, published by Kitaab, is her debut poetry collection. She is the co-founder of a creative firm based in Chennai, ArtLit: An Art & Literary Community.
we desperately waited
for Onam’s arrival,
to see our mother
those floral patterns called Atthapoo
on our home’s porch,
as we had created
our very own
‘God’s own country’
in our immigrant life,
away from sultry Malabar.
Atthapoo: Floral designs made on floor on the occasion of the Malayali festival Onam.
The Story of Soil
Author: Shyam Sundar Pal
Bionote: Shyam Sundar Pal is a Senior Research Fellow and Teaching Assistant under the supervision of Dr. Ananya Ghoshal (from the research group Literature, Performance and Other Arts) in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Indore. Currently, he is working on The select adapted films of Satyajit Ray. His research interest broadly lies in Films of Satyajit Ray, Bangla Cinema, Rabindranath Tagore, Bangla Short Story, and Adaptation Studies. Mr. Pal has participated in and presented papers in national and international webinars, seminars, and conferences. Mr. Pal is also interested in literary translation and creative writing bilingually (English and Bengali). He can be reached at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
The earth's surface parts as the spade hits the ground firmly. A drop of sweat wets the tip of the spade as the rest of it sinks under the ground. Shambhu pulls out the spade from the ground with all his strength and shouts, "Duggi, bring the gamucha." Duggi, sitting aloof beneath a small tree, gets up very slowly, pains her eyes by the sun, which is burning like a red-hot ball, and walks to her husband, handing him a tattered gamucha. Shambhu takes the gamucha from her and wipes the sweat from his face and hand. He makes a big sigh of exhaustion. Just in no seconds, Shambhu resumes tilting the soil again. And Duggi holds the bucket carefully, helping Shambhu gather the soil on the bamboo buckets. Shambhu fills the buckets and puts one on Duggi's head and the other on his. They start walking back home.
It was well before sunrise when they had left home and traveled 5 kms to get to this special soil which is the primary ingredient for making clay handicrafts. The journey to get soil isn't as fatiguing as the journey back home with the fiery sun burning overhead. They reach home; Shambhu is tired. Yet they get no time to take a little rest. It is only five days to go as the Gajan festival will start in the neighboring village. On this occasion, a big fair takes place in an adjacent field, where they plan to sell their handicrafts.
Shambhu breaks the soil with his feet, and Duggi fetches buckets of water to wet the soil. Both start preparing the crafts when the soil is ready by the evening. Shambhu can prepare small animal crafts of elephants, horses, fish, duck, deer, etc. Duggi is very efficient in the framing of gods and goddesses. She can even prepare crafts depicting tiny episodes from myth. Both sculpt rigorously suing their hands. They cannot afford any modern or electronic machines or equipment in the process. They mould them, polish them and dye them in turns. For five days they remain busy in their activities — they travel in the morning to collect the soil, and rest of the day, they prepare the crafts.
The Bystander Effect
Author: Souvik Datta
Bionote: Souvik Datta is a State Aided College Teacher (S.A.C.T) who has completed his Masters Degree and B.Ed. in English. He has qualified NET. While he is a student of English literature, he also has a knack for Bengali literature as well. With interest in comics, particularly those from DC Comics, Inc., he aims to pursue his doctoral research in graphic novels. He has a personal intrigue for cultural studies and aims for a simple approach towards life and Literature. He loves music and is a connoisseur of global cuisine. He has published his works previously in TMYS.
When Andrew and I started out for our walk, the sky had been painted with the evening hue. The area, yet to receive the urban touch, had a sombre atmosphere during dusk. For someone who has hustled through the “concrete jungles” this was purgatory. The silence, the darkness, the solitariness somewhat forced you to delve into musings, musings that don’t raise their heads in the cacophony, the radiance, the company of the cities. We strolled casually with a bag dangling on my left shoulder. A few minutes into the walk we ran into Raju, still dressed in his work attires. Having noticed me, he stopped in his path and zealously joined his hands while bowing. I went up to him and put some denominations into his hand which seemingly created a tussle between his pride and poverty. Eventually poverty reigned supreme and Raju, after another zealous show of respect, headed home. Before I could trace my steps back to Andrew, his snigger reached me.
“So D, you even have the Gods bowing down to you?”
I replied wryly, “It’s a form of art, but I wouldn’t expect you to understand.”
“You call this art? I see the village has corrupted your senses. This is dress up, a child’s fancy which isn’t art in any manner.”
“So is cinema.”
“You seriously want to compare this to cinema?” Andrew now looked genuinely puzzled. “What even is this?”
There was a bench at a stone’s throw. I signalled Andrew towards it.
“My father believed in the trouser way of life rather than the dhoti. So, I grew up quite alienated from my own culture. The only form of exposure that I received was from my grandmother when we visited our native place. She took it upon herself to make me well versed with the holy books although she was aware that most of her teachings would be well forgotten the next time I would visit her. During one such visit I saw something that left me baffled. I ran to my grandmother and told her in one go, “Granny, Lord Shiva has come to visit us and he is smoking hookah with Grandpa.” My mother laughed while my grandmother very innocently asked, “Is it so?”
I shook my head with all my might.
“Then let us go meet him.” My grandmother took my hand and marched towards the courtyard.
‘Bholenath, this boy wanted to meet you.”
Bholenath looked up. I tried to hide behind my grandma but when The Lord called me, I didn’t dare to contravene supposing that might open up his third eye. He made me promise to be a good boy always to which I readily agreed.
That night I told my father about this strange encounter. My father stared at me for some time and then blatantly told me, “That is nothing but a man who dresses up as a God. A Bohurupi. Don’t waste your time with all this nonsense.”
I immediately shot, “What is a Bohurupi?”
“Bahu means many and Rupa means form or faces. People who take up different forms are called Bohurupi. They’ll dress up as Gods, animals or sometimes even as witches.”
I wasn’t completely surprised. I had my doubts from the beginning because my grandma never said that Lord Shiva had such a big belly. The next day came Goddess Kali but this time I was ready and even after a plethora of efforts, I couldn’t be convinced about the genuineness of the goddess. So giving up on the effort, he decided to narrate and act out the story of how Goddess Kali defeated the monster Raktabija. This is where he won over me and for the remaining days of my vacation, I waited for him and he portrayed a story every day.
The day before we were set to return, I sat down with him and asked, “Do you think Gods are real?”
An Aspiring Writer
Author: Kathakali Mukherjee
Bionote: Kathakali Mukherjee writes content for others to make a living and writes fiction and short stories for own readers to make life a pleasant experience. Fiction, to her, is the option to describe the world she observes. She also works on literary translation of Bengali and German folktales with an intention to publish less known works of big cultural and historical significance. Being an explorer in the ocean of literature, she finds old folk literature a strong support that helps one to delve deeper in cultural environment of a specific geography. She tries to express her thoughts and communicate with readers using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To know more about her, check https://kathamukh.wordpress.com
Mitul did not know her leaving a job could annoy so many of her neighbours!
She had been engaged with different work areas throughout her professional life. Finally she stuck to software sector for around ten years because of the financial security it provided her. But as recession affected her gigantic software company as well as her project, she did not find any point working for a proposed lesser salary. Starving and staying in the cyber-city was not her dream. She was fine with the idea of transforming into a dog; but only for a good package. She did not need to provide monetary support to her family. Hence she started thinking of doing something that would serve her ‘pleasure’, the rarest type of delicacy found on earth. She decided to go back to her parent’s home and try her luck in writing which was once her retirement plan.
She returned home after submitting her resignation – her octogenarian parents were excited to see the much loved daughter back at home, even her sister from another cyber world welcomed her decision. She had an idea about the subject to write, but not about readership. She knew her incapability in making friends and self-marketing. Anyway, leaving a job was not the first risk she had ever taken. Hence she was hopeful of surviving this time too, especially after she received an offer from the famous entrepreneur-author Tanima Bose and the feminist publisher Dibya Gautam to work as a content writer.
Unfortunately, the effect of her leaving job on her parent’s neighbours, whom she seldom met before, was too severe to assume. Almost everyone was curious about the reason of the homecoming of a middle-aged woman before retirement. Some expressed concern about her mental health, some about her illicit relationships at workplace, some suggested her to start searching for another job immediately, some asked why she did not marry someone she met on the road to the office, and some asked her how much she was hoping to earn by freelance writing. She could never assume her neighbourhood people would find defining an ‘aspiring writer’ so difficult. She felt bad for all the investigating eyes, not being able to satisfy any of them.
The Hungry River
[A story for Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to his memory]
Author: Amrit Gangar
Bionote: Amrit Ganger is a Mumbai-based author, curator, film theoretician and historian. He has independently authored books on cinema both in English and Gujarati languages, besides having edited and co-edited a number of books. His book Cinema Vimarshhas been awarded by the Gujarat Sahitya Akademi. For the past decade he has been engaged with his theoretical concept of Cinema Prayoga and has presented it at various venues in India and abroad. He has been on juries of numerous film festivals. He is on the international advisory board of the Moving Image Review & Art Journal (MIRAJ) published from London.
Never been able to quench her thirst, she perennially remained dry and the villagers had aptly named her Bhookhi Nadi, the Hungry River. Often she would compare her name with Bengal’s Subarnarekha or Mayurakshi and would feel aggrieved about her name! But bhookhi she always remained! Once in a while if rain gods were in good moods, Bhookhi would turn voluptuously mad. Flooding!
Chhasara is a village of my childhood memories and therefore it exists. Situated in the coastal (kanthi) part of Kachchh, Chha sara is so called because of its iconic six (chha) memorial stones (sarā) that still stand on the verge of its borders for over four centuries now. The six weather-worn sandstone sarā carry no script written on their frail bodies to decipher, except poke-marks and suppressed sighs of the dead: five Rajput brothers and a sister! They were all killed in a little war for a fiefdom. The chha sarā have survived famines and earthquakes, sunburns and storms, solitude and sacrilege. Oral tales still spin around them – in whisper or whoosh! Nobody knows the names of these souls. And still they are as real as Bhookhi’s hunger!
Bhookhi, in her womb, carries some real ghost stories, some of which were etched in my childhood mind like dark Rambrandt paintings. Echoes of these stories are still heard from the wells she inhabited on her dry body. One was an open well with a cement-concrete heightened surface and it surprisingly remained full of water that bathed many men, young and old.
One day -
Dawn had yet to dawn but dogs had unusually started barking that prahara of the day. The owl on an old peepal tree had lowered his mysterious eyelashes. Self-absorbed Bhookhi was still meditating on her empty stomach! Something had gone devastatingly wrong somewhere and the pir in his tomb on a nearby hillock was warning the village, as if…!
Author: Kanishk Sharma
Bionote: Kanishk Sharma, a student of architecture and design, is an aspiring writer and filmmaker and considers himself a true lover of literature and cinema. He lives in the voluptuous dimension of imagination and believes dreams and nightmares are as real as the here and now.
'You should know there's power in the words you're thinking', he quotes his favorite music artist as he probably sips some tea, amid the mountains he calls home where life is but a beautiful blessing, nothing but reality braided with fiction, utopian and unreal!
The prodigious stairway that led to the entrance to of MARCO museum in Rome was decked in decorative boughs on either side to ring in the festive season. It was unbearably cold, perhaps, the most extreme December of the decade. Towering Corinthians were crowned with an ornamented entablature that needed no further attention. The museum was buzzing with a covey of artists and patrons who had assembled for the annual exhibition that was to take place on New Year’s Eve.
I went inside and saw Sarah looking at my work that was all set for display in one of the coveted aisles of the museum.
“This is heavenly! Are you sure it took only three months?” she asked.
“Three months and three days!" I replied.
She smiled warmly and said,” It won’t be an exaggeration if I label this as your finest work so far.”
I stood there, looking the painting, examining the kind words that Sarah had bestowed it with.
“Don’t you agree?" she asked.
“I don’t know, Sarah. But it is my most special work, for sure.” I replied after a long sigh.
I found myself utter those words in complete imperturbation, standing there, looking at my own work, a 46x64 oil on canvas, until interrupted by Sarah.
“May I ask what makes it special?”
I looked at her and said, ‘Well that’s a story for another day.”
“Well, I am not leaving this here, but I'll see you around in some time, the management would not like if I abandon my duties as the exhibition director. Why don’t you show yourself around”?
I smiled at her as she left to attend her duties.
My eyes were fixed again at the painting, thinking about what I had just mentioned, what made it special for me? The portrait came unravelling in front of my eyes, taking me back to when it was a mere cotton canvas.
Books and Films
The Drama Called LIFE in Namita Gokhale’s The Blind Matriarch
Author: Chandna Singh Nirwan
Bionote: Chandna is an academician, an author and a thinker. She did her Masters in English from Christ University (2011-13), Bangalore and is presently a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at NIT, Jaipur. She cleared NET (English) in April 2016. She is published in several national and international journals of repute. Chandna has also authored a book titled An Ecocritical Reading of Tess of the D'Urbervilles. This book is a result of her research in the field of ecocriticism. Her present areas of research are Dalit literature, myth, archetypes, land, politics and identity.
Women’s journey in creative writing has had its own history of unique expressions and emblazoned desires which got their due recognition only when dedicated authors came forward to represent women more realistically than ideologically. The portrayal of women in novels have always witnessed dramatic renditions in creative translations of the real world, where the agency of women is still sensitive and not obvious. Among many authors who are pushing the walls, Namita Gokhale’s multi-genre writing has given voice to women from various dates and geographies, pointing at the anomalies in gender treatment of the society. Gokhale’s fictions does not come out as the works of an activist, but that of an artist whose strokes draw serious attention towards the dark corners behind the social spotlight. Her latest work, The Blind Matriarch is the story of many women in a family including the matriarch, Matangi Ma, her daughter, her daughter-in-law, the house-help and others whose worlds overlap in small and big ways. Under the unprecedented circumstance of being locked up during the coronavirus lockdowns, one can certainly see the past meeting the present at several occasions. The flashbacks not only serve as hurtful memoirs but as cautionary reminders to shape the future.
The Blind Matriarch subtly divulges into the world of C100, a multi-storeyed house inhabited by a joint family with its reigning matriarch, Matangi-Ma, at Delhi. It has an alarmingly haunting backdrop set in the most unnerving times, the era of the Coronavirus. The braveheart readers will deny any prominent occurrence till they reach the Epilogue where their well-guarded selves come full throttle to the harshest reality of life, made prominent by covid- death, which stood hovering upon C100 as if closely watching and choosing its victim(s).
Gokhale reminds us that when the whole world stood in solidarity to face the most generous of all predators, one which failed to follow the societal discriminatory norms of age, class, position and caste, the individual families were crumbling down. The multitudinous facades came crashing and that survival was the destination. The blurred lines at home became sharply clear. Sugarcoated words were buried with the pleasant past as the virus got the better of us all.
Worshipping The Goddess Of Feminine Stigma and Women Power: Raveena Tandon as Laxmi Rathod.
Author: Moumita Pal
Bionote: Moumita Pal is a proactive learner and scholar of English literature who hails from Bankura, West Bengal, India. She has completed her postgraduation in 2019 from Bankura University and has qualified UGC NET with JRF in June 2020. She has publications in various National and International Journals of repute like IJCRT, Literary Herald, Appropriations, Creative Flight and Anthology The Research etc. Some of her areas of interest include Environmentalism, Psychology, Gender and woman studies and Indian writing in English.
Women and religion. Women in religion. Feminism and Religion could sound distinctly different topics. But the two influence each other in more ways than one. On one hand, it is the idea of goddess and Shakti, which is inspiring and empowering. On the other, many atrocities are carried upon women in the name of religious beliefs and superstitions. Innumerable shades of women have found representation in various media formats which have played a significant role in bringing to the fore the existing reality of the status of women and its changing paradigms.
Bollywood is one of the most significant influencers. While Bollywood films are often blamed for objectifying women, there are also many astounding films which revolve around the life of women, their importance in society and share messages that are not just limited to the bedroom and the kitchen.
Conventional images of the women in the Hindu tradition depicts the ideology of women’s religiosity as service and devotion to the husband, and the notion of “streedharma” as the ideal feminine behaviour originated in the period of classical Hinduism. Even though there are active heroines in the epics, their agency, as perceived by the society, is very limited. It surfaces in their self-effacing virtue, service and self-sacrifice to the husband.
Drifting away from the patriarchal communication are the interesting works of art, which depict women power even through the imposed bindings of social gatekeepers.
Religious feminism is wonderfully portrayed in the representation of women in Praan Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaye (2003), a film starring the phenomenal Indian actress, Raveena Tandon, among others. This film explores the perspectives of women power and celebrates the dexterity of women in tackling tricky life-situations, rising from being considered ‘lesser’ in their little worlds. Such gender dynamics play a significant role in sensitizing people towards the reality of women and their contribution as change-makers.
Sanjay Jha's debut film, Praan Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaye (produced by Mahesh Manjrekar) revolves around the story of 49 middle class families and 239 people living under one roof, in a chawl and their fight with their new owner, Praveen Seth [Sachin Khedekar], the grandson of Popatlal who originally constructed this chawl. Praveen Seth is hell bent on vacating the chawl and constructing a multi-storeyed apartment block and shopping complex in its place. The ensuing war between the residents and Praveen Seth starts tilting in favour of the owner, until Laxmi Rathod [Raveena Tandon], a resident of the chawl, changes everything.
Roughly from 1970s the idea of feminism emerged not just as popular consciousness but also as social activism. There came a new wave in cinema that dealt with women’s issues, tried to represent the complications of modern life and its influence on women. These films targeted to address the marginalization and oppression of women due to gender discrimination. With the very beginning of twenty first century when third wave feminism was at its peak, feminist movies like Astitva (2000), Chandni Bar (2001), Lajja (2001), Daman (2001), Shakti the power (2002), Matrubhumi (2003), Kovilpatti Veeralakshmi (2003) already made their place in Indian cinema with very strong woman characters establishing interesting insights on gender disparity. Also, there was the increasing influence of strong women personalities like Mithali Raj, Indira Jaising, Jasodhara Bagchi, Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, Kiran Bedi, Anjali Gupta, Justice M. Fathima Beevi and many more from various disciplines in real life, successfully promoting women’s education and equality. A collective force made its presence felt for the abolition of social evils suppressing the voice of women in a patriarchal society.
A New Era, a New Solution: Street Art's 'Wake Up Call' to a Mute Society.
Author: Barsha Mondal
Bionote: Barsha Mondal is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in English Literature at Calcutta University. Reading, writing, and painting has always been an inseparable part of her life. As an ardent follower of T.S Eliot and William Carlos Williams, she finds her inspiration from the ‘urban city life,’ its struggles, its dilemmas, its vibrancy, and its way of portraying how ‘Life Goes On.’ Apart from this, she loves listening to music and plays violin.
There are two distinct languages. There is the verbal which separates people…
and there is the visual that is understood by everybody.
The quoted statement by Yaacov Agam, an Israeli Sculptor and experimental artist, in his “Warrior for Truth” award acceptance speech, depicts the impact of art in our lives. Street art is no exception to this rule. As soon as one steps out of the boundaries of the house wall, one is engulfed by several conditional factors, the most important being fulfilling the goals of the outing. One, therefore, hardly pays any attention to the environment around them, leading their own monochromatic lives. In such a situation, a fresh splash of colours, painted across the walls of the street through which they regularly pass, but hardly ever notice, has the capability to tingle the mind out of its sense of order and routine and, to lead one to ‘think’ beyond one’s individualistic concerns. Herein lies the role of street art: bringing the individual to the public, to break the norm of conformity and shed light on various issues of the society that may concern just the artist or the society as a whole. Blurring the lines between the high culture and low culture (Keren 1999, 2e) street art, therefore, primarily evolved as a medium of expression for the masses, before the ‘game of fame’ set in and many started considering it more of a nuisance than as a form of art. The essay explores these various issues surrounding this unconventional form of artistic endeavour.
Keywords: public art, urban space, societal awareness, vandalism, musealization, commercialization.
“It has a rawness you don't get through other forms of media. It is the voice of the world around us…”
-Matthew Lunn (2006)
Street art or Guerrilla art represents the artistic endeavour of employing the street as a canvas for portraying individualistic creativity or depicting a political or social stance. It encompasses a wide range of techniques such as spray painting, stencil art, wheat pasting, mosaic tilling, wall paintings, murals or even sculptures, usually maintaining a sense of anonymity, with regards to the artist and the circumstances behind its creation. With its roots firmly embedded in the Graffiti culture and its attitude towards the world, street art may be regarded as a post graffiti movement (Bou 2005, 7; MacNaughton 2006, 6). Therefore, it is no surprise that, its emergence as a means of public expression, has served as an emblem of defiance to the traditional bourgeoisie (Abrams and Harpham 2011, 204) modes of artistic expression, as is usually seen in museums or art galleries. This aspect of street art that blurs the lines between, what is considered as the intellectual and elite and that which is perceived to be the popular and public made Jenny Holzer, an American neo-conceptual artist comment, regarding her own work, “While it’s wonderful to show in galleries, and a privilege, it’s also very nice to be absolutely free and to be presenting material for anybody that’s walking by” (Lewisohn 2008, 90).
Mythical/Regional Echoes in Modern Performances: A Contemporary Comment on Girish Karnad's Hayavadana
Author: Mitali Bhattacharya
Bionote: Mitali Bhattacharya is a PhD. Research Scholar at the University School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi. Her research interests lie in Drama and Theatre Studies, Gender Studies, Trauma Studies, Philosophy and Literature, Literary Theory and Cultural studies. She has been participating in numerous national as well as international conferences and her papers appear in various peer-reviewed journals.
Girish Karnad’s drama adheres to regional theatre to highlight the modern Indian sensibility through the medium of drama. Karnad’s drama rests on the amalgamation of traditional/regional/folk settings and modern/urban sensibilities and themes. Moreover, the specificity of Karnad’s drama lies in his approach of bringing in philosophical concepts having mythological and philosophical associations. This essay intends to trace Karnad’s process of reflecting upon the regional echoes through modern performances on the Indian stage through his seminal drama titled Hayavadana. Moreover, the essay also attempts to comment on the contemporary relevance of his dramatic renditions and what significance they add to the identity of Indian drama as well as theatre.
Keywords: drama, performance, modern Indian theatre, hybridity, in-betweenness, tradition, modernity
Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana is regarded as a masterpiece at the levels of symbolism, metaphor, myth, and regionalism. The concepts of imperfection and incompleteness, in the play, foregrounds the idea of the ever-evolving quest for perfection on the philosophical level. The image of half-man and half-animal through the reference to Hayavadana’s character is directly synonymous with the ideas of binaries, oppositions, dichotomies, and dialectics of the existence of more than two schools of thoughts that prevail ubiquitously both at the levels of theory and praxis. Although this play is inspired by Thomas Mann’s The Transposed Heads (1977), it has its own originality in terms of culture, context and genre. While The Transposed Heads is a novella inspired by a book on the folktale based on the Indian goddess Kali by the Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, Hayavadana is a play set in the Indian culture and context.
Regarding the Indian context, more specifically, in the regional context, Karnad got inspired by the Yakshgana traditional theatre which further led to its dramatic rendition in the form of a dramatic performance of Hayavadana. B.N. Manorama, an acknowledged Yakshagana and Bharatanatyam artist, in the article titled “Yakshagana: The Performance”, explains this theatrical tradition
Panel Discussions under the Project
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Portrayal of Religion in Artforms
Project Assistant & Author: Tishya Majumder
Bionote: Tishya Majumder is a Ph.D. Researcher in the Department of English, Raiganj University. She has received the University Silver Medal for securing the second position in B.A. and Gold Medal for securing the first position in M.A. in English from North Bengal University. Her publications include ‘Vicious Patriarchy in Mahesh Dattani’s Dance Like a Man’ (Portrayal of Gender in English Literature),‘The Aquatic Wrath - Portrayal of Flood in Indian Cinema’ (TMYS Review), ‘Captivity’ (The Criterion: An International Journal in English), ‘Phoenix’ (Ardour: An Anthology) and many more. She is a verified Citizen Historian under ‘The 1947 Partition Archive’. Being an author, she has published poems and short stories in various journals and anthologies. She has also presented papers at national and international seminars and conferences.
The significance of art and art forms is not only limited to their aesthetic beauty but also contributes in tremendously influencing the society. Art plays a pivotal role in capturing history and culture, imparting knowledge, addressing relevant issues of the society, representing communities and tradition, elevating one’s mood and lifestyle, and most importantly creating revolutionary impact. Music, painting, sculptures, films, theatrical performances, handicrafts, literature, newspapers, animation and so on, are some of the most common channels of artistic expression through which various facets of the artist’s perception of the world are depicted. These art forms are then open to the feedback and interpretation of the audience, thereby starting impactful conversations and the progression of views. Art forms function as the mirror to the society, and at the same time they contribute to shaping our culture and beliefs as well. Hence, it is an endless cycle of influencing and re-influencing which needs thorough analysis and reflection. Therefore, the broad theme of the December 2022 project of TMYS Review is ‘Artistic Endeavours Shaping Cultural Identity and Ideology’ which aims to discuss the exuberance of art in the society and the elements in its infinite horizon that are being researched upon. The three sub-themes under this broad theme include:
- Portrayal of Religion in Artforms
- Graphical Representation and Social Evolution
- Regional Renditions in Dramatized Performances
Religion is one of the strongest pillars holding the world together, therefore its representation and depiction in art forms is only natural. Religion plays a crucial role in the human community as it cultivates morality, supports the framework of our society, fosters a sense of individual and cultural identity, advances academia and artistry, and lastly, gives people hope and a reason to move forward in life. The history and influence of religion as portrayed via art forms is an area where myriads of windows are being and still need to be opened, explored and discussed.
Graphical Representation and Social Evolution
Project Assistant & Author: Manjima Sarkar
Bionote: Manjima Sarkar is a Ph.D. scholar in the Department of English at Bankura University, Kolkata, West Bengal. Besides being a voracious reader, learner, and academic aspirant, she is a passionate singer, theatre practitioner, and trained Odissi dancer. She is also a winner of CCRT Junior scholarship. Her presentations and publications include ‘Therapy through Internet Art: Reassessing the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic through the Lens of Virtual Media’ (Upanayan Publications), ‘An Exploration of Post-Partition Insecurities and Resettlement in Qissa and Tahader Katha’ (presented at a seminar in North Bengal St. Xavier's College) to name a few.
Artistic explorations across multiple cultural spaces can be quite an intriguing journey for an art enthusiast or even an academic because perceptions and interpretations of various art forms strikingly change from one cultural space to another. Graphic art includes a wide range of artistic expressions that can be visually displayed and documented. Even though the term ‘graphic art’ primarily refers to any technique of drawing or illustration, it is not just confined to the traditional idea of engraving. Cartoonists, street artists, photographers, and animators have brought a revolutionary change in the visual format of this art form in recent decades, and they have successfully mastered the technique of blending their art productions with technology. That is probably the reason why graphic art is one of the most versatile categories of fine arts and if its history is carefully traced, one can unearth very interesting narratives concerning its evolution. However, this is a mammoth task and can only be accomplished by art experts, critiques, practitioners and scholars. This requires in-depth research which excavates the historical journey of this art form.
TMYS Review December 2022 thus introduced the broad theme ‘Society and Artistic Endeavours’ to put forth a critical analysis and discussion on the subject of social influences on various forms of art and how these art forms, in turn, shape a myriad of social discourses. Under this theme, the sub-topics have mostly addressed the dynamic historical, cultural, religious, social and political journeys of performing arts and graphic art through several panel discussions. This theme has further been divided into three sub-themes namely: religious portrayal in art forms; graphic representation and social evolution; and regional rendition in dramatized performances. The panels comprised speakers from various creative and academic fields who explored these sub-themes and shared their brilliant insights to unravel their arguments. The second sub-theme, ‘graphical representation and social evolution’ navigates the creative voyage of graphic art and how it has carved its way into the virtual world. This sub-theme is further divided into six topics:
- Evolution and Adaptation of Newspaper Cartoons
- Webcomics and Digital Storytelling
- Motion Pictures: Tracing the Shift from Traditional to VFX
- Social Issues Addressed through Street Art
- Graphic Novels in the Age of Electronic Media
- Art Experiences in Social Networking Spaces
The expansive research topics address multifarious discussions pertaining to the social impact and evolution of graphic art and almost all of these discussions revolves around the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, given how intensely this global pandemic impacted our lives in the past two years. Since the speakers come from different social and cultural backgrounds, the discussions do not just remain confined within the scope of unidimensional perspectives on art in a distinctly defined social context. In fact, such a diverse cohort of art enthusiasts, scholars and practitioners offer a fascinating amalgamation of views and ideas vis-à-vis various categories of graphic art.
Regional Renditions in Dramatized Performances
Project Assistant and Author: Shramana Biswas
Bionote: Shramana is a voracious reader and a literature enthusiast. She has pursued her bachelor's and master's degree in English language and literature from Banaras Hindu University and the National Institute of Technology, Trichy, respectively. She has carried out independent research on "Heterotopia and Metropolis: (Re) imagining Delhi in Khushwant Singh's novel Delhi: A Novel" from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar. She has also presented her papers at several national and international symposiums. Her article titled "Translating Cultures in Funny in Farsi" has been published by the Publication Wing of Al Shifa College of Arts and Commerce.
The premise that society's ultimate evolution is only conceivable under the proviso signifies changes which establish a discourse on 'Society and Artistic Endeavours.' Understanding culture is an effort to fully embody the elements of social construction that serve as the foundation for transformations in any civilization. Therefore, the function of performative acts have a distinct orientation and relevance for a range of objectives, such as the advancement of individuals and society in its entirety.
TMYS Review December 2022 project attempts to investigate how each component of a performance's execution first creates a reaction that appears throughout the journey of human emotion and also during the development of unique manifestations of material culture. The panel discussions on 'Regional Representation in Dramatized Presentations' explore the process of developing a dramatic experience which creates a long-lasting cultural reality. Based on their experiences, the scholars, actors, and storytellers participate in the panel discussions demonstrating an evolution of attitudes toward both spiritual and material cultures.
The digital panel discussions on ‘Regional Representation in Dramatized Presentations’ were divided into six themes:
- Serialised Representation of Folklore’s Episodic Culture
- Sitcoms and OTTs: Visual Manifestation of Culture
- Theatrical Performances: Drama Across Spaces and Regions
- Rendering Spaces: Situating Women in Dramaverse
- Stand-up Comedy: Regional Language on National Stage
- Motion Pictures: Regionalism and the People
The broad range of these topics infuse diverse viewpoints on culture, identity, and ethnicity that had an overall influence on ideas regarding regionalized performative acts. The speakers—who come from many religious, professional and cultural backgrounds—brought their perspectives, thoughts, and mindsets to the discussion.
Many people tend to categorise folk traditions as either aesthetic or scientific, depending upon their interest - whether scholastic or general. Each speaker of the panel discussion titled 'Serialised Representation of Folklores' Episodic Culture' approach with a unique area of specialisation. Folk tradition comes in many forms, including mythology, fables, legends, traditional music, idiomatic expressions, paradoxes, postures, games, and rituals, all of which are valuable sources in understanding how social expressions blende into artistic presentations. Each panelist explains how the art form of their particular interest, such as Chauu, Pandava Leela, Kathakali, Pala and Tharu, reflect upon the sociocultural structure of the society. For this purpose, studying various folk traditions via the lens of analysis provides a unique perspective on another culture that differs from the regular ones.
Folk dances and songs make up a significant portion of Indian culture as a means of communication. One of the traditional arts performed in India is the Chhau dance-drama of Eastern India. Chhau dance performances come in three varieties, as mentioned by Guru Sharon Lowen - Purulia, Seraikella, and Mayurbhanj. Understanding Chhau's elements and origin is essential before understanding the spirit of this Indian art form. Given that it is a tradition that has thrived for many years and is both rigid and imaginative, the Chhau is very significant to understanding how cultures travel across state borders. By depicting tales from Indian mythology, the Chhau is used as a strategy to spread an ethos. Personification and imagery, rather than dialogue, convey particular sentiments and expressions in the Chhau characters to bring the narrative to life.
Amazon India link for TMYS Review December 2022
(Available worldwide via Amazon)