Sunday, August 26, 2007

to The Hindu, with rage.

“To date, many of my plays have been interpreted erroneously by foolish and self-serving people.”- says Vijay Tendulkar. I don’t doubt him one bit. The very article it appeared on ( is a lucid illustration of the quote.

To say that I was disappointed by the review of one of Vijay Tendulkar’s best plays would be a grave mistake. Because I was shattered by it. I was so overwhelmed by the ‘Kanyadaan’ that I drove back home alone in silence turning off the music (which has never happened before), questioning myself on the so-called values that I was hoping to bring up my son with. It made me think for the first time ever, if the strong values that I uphold self-righteously were perhaps the wrong values? The play that moved me to tears while watching it moved me to think and question deeply the values with which one is brought up and intends to inculcate in one’s children.

After waiting with excitement for a whole week for the review that might complement the play, I was outraged at the sheer shallowness of it. This is a play about human beings and their values, right or wrong. Not about Brahmins and dalits. This is a play about value systems that dictate how we spend the rest of our lives. Not about one man’s hypocrisy. By the way, I wonder where that came from. Possibly from a person who related well with a minority community and it’s ‘I’m a victim’ mentality. It seems to me that this review has distorted the play out of recognition due to personal prejudices. But even that is excusable as we all look at life through eyes that are jaded by our personal experiences. What is not excusable is the superficiality of the review. Quoting 26 lines from the play makes for commendable memory but not for a good review. Was there a word limit to keep to, I wonder?

I finally thought I saw light when I read ‘What was radical and sweeping was the exchange of words between father and daughter in the final scene, when Usha confronts his charitable gesture in releasing his son-in-law’s autobiography.’ And what followed shattered me once again by the total misinterpretation of what I thought was an eye-opener of a scene, and the crux of the play. The fact that the daughter now belonged to her husband rather than her father was simply garnishing and not the meat. Any fool could see that. Almost. The shattering truth that one could actually cripple one’s children with the values one brings them up with was completely missed.

After almost 10 years doing acting and watching plays, I know what it means to see a play and feel passionately about it. It may be wrong of me to expect that kind of passion from people who are, after all, just doing a job. On the other hand, to quote Bernbach, ‘A job worth doing is worth doing well’. I also believe that a job should only be entrusted to one fit for it. Else, it would be like giving away your beautiful, cultured daughter to be massacred by a beast of a man.