Nairvanam2

Originally uploaded by lighttripper

I think we are changing. We, as a society are changing and changing for the better.

 

This change was witnessed by a Gay Pride parade in Bangalore for the 1st time on 29-Jun-08. A walk, where all the men and women, who are otherwise ridiculed in our films for fun, who are only stared at and stayed away from, came out in the open with a simple yet powerful message, which said, “Here I am, just as human as you are and equally comfortable of who I am.”

 

This change was not welcome by many though and this was proven by the many comments that I got to see in various discussion forums. But the opinions of the speakers in these forums really don’t matter because if these people cannot accept alternate sexuality as a normal way of existence, then I don’t think we need these useless discussion forums anymore. These should rather be banned or fire-walled.

 

Come to think of it, women’s emancipation and empowerment also appeared as a threatening to many and it still is, therefore, empowering people who do not confirm to the normal gender roles, have a long way to go. Though the good part is, most of us now know that they don’t fear us anymore and that’s a good change.

 

Talking about these changes, another event that I must talk about here are the two monologues performed by Pritham K Chakravarthy.

 

Pritham Chakravarthy, who is a playwright, director, performer, film critic and activist from Chennai performed two of her famous monologues, “Nirvanam” and “Mirror”.

 

This event was held at The Centre for Education and Documentation, Domlur on a lazy Saturday afternoon of 5th of Jul 2008.

 

This event was organized by a Theatre group called Masra and was kept very low key, I really don’t know why?

 

Witnessed by an audience of not more than 30 people who were mostly in their 20s, I saw 3 elderly people also, who came very early to grab the best seats for the show. Another reason for me to believe that we are changing for good.

 

As a performer, Pritham is engrossing and believable. Her USP is her powerful body language and screaming eye contact that she makes with her audience.

 

I was overwhelmed with her acting so much that I was at a loss of words when the discussion with the audience began. She was so real.

 

In her first play, “Nirvanam”, she tells a story of a eunuch. A story of a boy who has the soul of a woman beneath all the flesh and bones and a human spirit above all. A spirit to find her own identity amidst all odds and abandonment. A story of courage, survival. This play is aptly named “Nirvanam” where a person who is ostracized by his own family attains Nirvana by getting rid of his “manhood” . The message which rips through your mind is, “A human is much more than we all perceive through the anatomy.”

 

The performance is so gripping that at first I thought may be this is the story of Pritham herself.
It was not easy for Pritham to interview eunuchs and get such insight on their lives.

 

Mirror, was the 2nd performance where Pritham enacts a story of a successful actress from the black and white era of Tamil cinema, who was once successful and independent. It’s a story about her insecurities, tragedies, heartbreaks and secrets. A similar tale where independent women taking their own sexual decisions with a liberated mind cannot be “good” wives. They can be good lovers and even better mothers to fatherless children but cannot be a wife.

 

Both “Nirvanam” and “Mirror” were in striking contrasts with each other. “Nirvanam” being a story of a man wanting to be a woman. Where the protagonist is taken care of by the Aravani community; a community which lives in the peripherals of society stricken by ignorance, lack of health care, education, any kind of human rights and poverty. “Mirror”, on the other hand, is a story of a successful and beautiful woman who is proud to be a screen goddess. She is admired by many yet she cant live a normal life. Both the protagonists are powerful and their independence is scary to people who are just about ordinary. The sad part is most of the world is filled with ordinary people and that is perhaps the reason why it is difficult for any extra-ordinary person to be a part of a normal lifestyle.

 

 

NOTE:- “Nirvanam” is a ceremony of the Aravani community where a man becomes a woman by getting rid of his manhood. The entire healing process takes 40 days and its on the 40th day that the womanhood is celebrated.

 

Both the stories are based on facts gathered from various interviews.

 

Photo Courtesy:- Vinayak Das

2 thoughts on “A Pleasant Change

  1. This was a fantastic performance. I am SO glad I was there. As you mention Pritham is convincing. She has amazingly emotive eyes and during the performance when she looks at you she seems to speak directly to your soul.

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