Intervening on behalf of the Present Caste Equality Struggle: Reworking History and Myth in Contemporary Plays
(University of Mysore)
Nagesha Venkatappa (Bangalore University )
Paper short abstract:
The theatre as an aesthetic and social process responds to the contemporary happenings of the society and it turn moulded by it. Caste, a birth centred social hierarchy, that is in place in India has also evoked several struggles in the contemporary times to eradicate the system. Literature has produced enormous works in relation to caste politics in the form of poetry, novels, short stories, autobiographies, articles, criticism, plays etc. Several progressive thinkers and writers have tried, in their works, to unearth, from an unconventional approach, the dehumanized practices and have given a new dimension to the thinking on caste. The Kannada theatre/literature has also engaged itself with this phenomenon of caste and struggle against it. Kuvempu in his ‘Shudratapasvi’, P.Lankesh in his ‘Sankranti,’ Girish Karnad in his ‘Taledanda’ and H.S. Shivaprakash in ‘Mahachaitra’ have countered the traditional caste politics by rereading the history and literature. As a result the outcastes, the untouchables, the cornered people have come came to the center of writing/stage. Once neglected and unsung heroes have attained prominence in their plays.
Paper long abstract:
This paper tries to bring in how these playwrights have incorporated the theme of caste politics in their plays. Kuvempu,in his play, which is a reworking of a story from Ramayana, asserts that every individual is entitled to meditate (study) irrespective of caste, P.Lankesh in his 'Sankranti' depicts the picture of how the untouchables are being manipulated by the upper caste people, Girish Karnad in his 'Taledanda' pictures the brutal killing of the people who tried to bring in equality in the society and H.S. Shivaprakash in 'Mahachaitra' describes the way the Sharanas try to protect their lives with help of weapons which is against their practice of non-violence.
Caste, community and class identities of Dalits in a global context