Of Cabbages and Kings

October 24, 2006

Yayati

Filed under: Personal, Random musing — Chinmayi @ 7:15 pm

was one of those mythological stories [story here]. I heard most of my hoard of traditional stories from my grandmother. I don’t remember her telling me this one though, I remember reading it along with some other starkly ‘inappropriate’ ones in some book. I think my grandmother shrank from the prospect of answering questions like ‘Paati Paati, what is infidelity? And what did Yayati do exactly with his youth for so many years?’.

Girish Karnad wrote a play in Kannada on Yayati, and they recently translated that play into English – so I managed to see it.  He’s jammed bunches of interesting perspectives into it. For instance, seeing the Asuras, Devas and humans as castes , seeing reflections caste discrimination and caste stereotypes in the story. Then the entire rebellion bit about a son overburdened with his ancestors glory – a recluse who doesn’t want to wear the crown (though this is a very old theme). The self-absorption of an indulged-from-the-cradle king. The helplessness and lack of choice, of most of the women in the story. Philosophizing on life and death. And possibly more that I missed.

It’s a little distracting to have Bangalore-teenager voices being projected from the mouths of queens. I was fortunate enough to be sitting too far away to see any Bangalore-teenager face contortions that might have flitted across the stage. Some of the actors were pretty fantastic though – it must take an awful lot of self-control to be able to do a convincing and intimate love scene with over a hundred people gaping at you. The music was great too, though the audience kept rudely interupting with applause before the singers had finished.

 What still has me fascinated though, is the way Karnad took a simple mythological story and added all these textures and dimensions to it which make you see suddenly that none of those stories could possibly be close to as simple as they are made out to be. And that this very likely applies to every relationship, every action, every incident that we hear about – that light it up from another side, look at it through someone else’s eyes, and suddenly, it’s a different story…a different creature.

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