Seagull theatre presentation
Based on Vaidehee’s book
Design and Direction: Bhageerathi bai
Total team members 10 (including director)
I have been an actress for years and it is very recently that I have developed a strong interest in direction. Among the few directorial ventures of mine, this particular play on Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay is of much importance to me, as it is about a woman who dedicated her life to the cause of women welfare and up-liftment, and also became responsible for the renaissance of Indian Handicraft and Handloom, apart from being a driving force towards organized theater training and movement in the country post independence.
My inspiration for the play came through some books on Kamaladevi Chattopadhayay that I read in recent years. I was felt motivated with the story of her life, whether it was her childhood that shaped her personality through influences of loved ones at home, or her youth that saw her emerge as a strong and determined woman, or her later years when she diligently paved the path for an India that would value women’s independence, the rich cultural heritage and refined performing arts of our country.
In spite of being brought up in an aristocratic environment and also being married into such a reputed family, she chose the arduous path of freedom struggle and had a major contribution in the Salt Satyagraha of Mahatma Gandhi. Her efforts to rehabilitate the refugees after partition and lend a helping hand to the destitute women at the time cannot be ignored at any cost. I feel much honoured to be able to portray factions of life such a woman in my own humble way through the play.
The play begins with the childhood of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay in her ancestral home at Mangalore where her mother Girijabai and grandmother are seen to have a positive and strong influence on her, apart from her teacher Margaret cousins. The three women are much responsible for the strong personality of Kamaldevi that is reflected through her actions in every phase of her life.
Her mother, a woman from an aristocratic background, was educated and very progressive, while her grandmother, a religious but broad minded woman was well versed in scriptures. These women moulded young Kamala’s mind in a way that made her the fighter and reformer that she was all her life. The play reflects this while it also touches upon the influence of her teacher Margaret cousins who imbibed her thoughts with a sense of equality of genders and love for the performing arts. This was further polished by her association with her second husband Harindranath Chattopadhyay.
Her growing up years was also spent at her maternal uncle’s home where she came in contact with famous people and important freedom fighters, giving her the inspiration to become one like them some day. Also the plight of her older married sisters determined her to fight for the cause of women all her life.
Later, as a young widow, Kamaladevi was encouraged by her mother to pursue higher studies and also accept the proposal of marriage by Harindranath Chattopadhyay, the famous performing artist and brother of Sarojini Naidu. The marriage happened in spite of much opposition from an orthodox society, and later she even chose to take the bold step of divorce from Harindranath when she realised that her dignity was being harmed.
Her role as a freedom fighter as a Sevika in the Seval Dal, her indomitable role in the Salt Satyagraha of Mahatma Gandhi where she opposed Gandhi’s dilemma on letting women participate in Dandi March. Her role as the first woman to contest a seat in Madras Provincial Legislative Assembly, under the guidance of Margaret Cousins, and her role in reforming the Indian arts and handicrafts, the play is an amalgamation of all these facets of her life and personality, reflected through monologues of older Kamaladevi, and enactment of younger Kamaladevi and other important characters in her life and the freedom struggle.
CAST and CREDITS
Script based on Vaidehi’s book on Kamaladevi
Costume: Antara G G Choudhury
Set: Baharul Islam
Light : Rajiv Medhi
Music: Dhiraj Kumar
Design and Direction: Bhagirathi
A brief write up of Vaidehi
Vaidehi (Janaki S. Murthy, 1945) a welknown Kannada writer, playwright and poet. hails from Kundapura, a small town in Udupi Dt., Karnataka. She resides in Manipal, Udupi Dt. Her work spans over 44 publications of short stories, poems, novels, essays, translations, biographies and children’s dramas. Her short story, “Akku”, is now a major telefilm on DD Bangalore, and the story “Gulabi Talkies” was made into a critically-acclaimed film by Director Girish Kasaravalli. English Translations of her works have been published by Penguin India and Oxford University Press. She has won numerous awards, including two Karnataka State Academy Awards and the Dana Chintamani Attimabbe Prashasthi- the highest award conferred on a woman writer from the Karnataka Government She is also the recipient of the Central Sahitya Academy award-2009 for her collection of short stories, “Krouncha Pakshigalu”
Vaidehi, Iruvanthige, Ananthnagar-2nd stage, Manipal, Udupi Dt, Karnataka.
Phone: Land line- 0820 2572395
Mobile- 94482 15697
Press Review for the play