MAHESH DATTANI - AN AUTHENTIC VOICE OF A CONTEMPORARY INDIAN PLAYWRIGHT
Keywords:Mahesh Dattani, Literature
Dattani’s plays are about the marginalized sections of our society – the minorities, women, gays and the eunuchs. His characters usually live on the edges and fringes of society and they, while not looking for acceptance, are often shown to be struggling to get as much fringe-space for themselves as they can. Dattani’s plays can also be seen as relentless assaults on Indian patriarchy. He struck his first blow on patriarchal domination by empowering the women characters in his first play, Where There’s a Will (1988). Dattani described the play as the exorcism of the patriarchal code. Women – be it daughter-in-law, wife or mistress – are dependent on men and this play “shows what happens when they are pushed to the edge” (Dattani, Vol 1 451). In a line rich with suggestiveness, he makes a mistress say of her benefactor, “He saw in me a woman who would father him.’’ (510) Indeed, the ‘Other’ woman, the conventionally maligned ‘keep’, turns out in this play to be a positive factor in stabilizing her former lover’s family. The play also exposes the social corruptions of the nouveau riche and the dynamics of power and domination operational within a family.
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