The Dark Sun and The Women Who Wore a Hat
Author: Kamal Desai
Translated by Sukhmani Roy
818560407X | PB | pp. 166 | 1999 | Bhatkal and Sen
Translated for the first time into English, the two novellas The Dark Sun and The Women Who Wore a Hat embody the tensions and cross-currents of an indigenous modernity even as they deconstruct it.
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These two plays by Saoli Mitra, a veteran actress and dramaturge of the Bengali stage, are both based on the Mahabharata. The story of Draupadi is narrated in Five Lords. Married to the five royal Pandava brothers, she narrates her humiliation at the hands of the Kauravas, the cousins of her husbands and rivals for the throne. Timeless Tales, set within the Mahabharata, looks at the destruction of an age and civilization. The tragedy of the royal women, Satyavati, Amba, Ambika and Ambalika, the abducted princesses; of Kunti Gandhari, Draupadi, Subhadra and the young Uttara, continues to be relevant today. Both the plays are one-woman performances in the tradition of kathakatha, a rural Bengali genre of dramatized storytelling, and use live music. The apparent naivete of the single woman’s voice builds a relationship of collusion with the audience. Subverting traditional Western theatre of the Western and gendering of the stories, Mitra’s plays test the audience’s views of decorum.
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About the Contributors
A distinguished student and teacher of Marathi literature, the author was born in 1928. Among her major books are Ratrandin Amha Yuddhacha Prasanga (We Are Confronting the War, Day and Night); Ranga (1962); Kala Surya and Hat Ghalnari Bai (1975).
Sukhmani Roy is head, Department of English Literature and Language at P.N. Doshi College of Arts and Kum. U.R. Shah Women’s College of Commerce, Ghatkopar, Bombay. Her areas of interest are feminism and postmodernism. She has published short stories in Marathi and English.
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