Published on 16 January, 2015 in Mint
A play based on a Devdutt Pattanaik book reverses the gender roles
As humans, we’re expected to play certain roles to remain acknowledged and accepted in society. Men and women have defined roles, but what if the roles are reversed accidentally? Director Kaushik Bose’s latest play, Flesh, brings this question to the fore through a story adapted from the epic Mahabharat. Based on Devdutt Pattanaik’s book The Pregnant King, the play revolves around Yuvanashva, a childless king who mistakenly drinks a magic potion meant to make his queen pregnant. He then gives birth to a son.
“It was early 2013 and I was looking for a subject to do a play after my last production when I came across Pattanaik’s book. I read it and was extremely touched by the story of Yuvanashva. Besides the gender issue, The Pregnant King is a human story with real emotions. The challenge was to adapt a 350-page book into a play, but I have stuck to the original story almost fully,” says Bose, who heads the creative team at the New Delhi-based Theatreworms Productions.
It is the dilemma of a man trying to behave like a king and a loving mother at the same time. Is Yuvanashva expected to be the child’s father or mother? And can he continue to rule his kingdom as the king, now that he has given birth? “The play raises pertinent questions without making it seem obvious. What remains with the audience in the end is the story of Yuvanashva and his journey through an extraordinary situation. It is through his transient journey that the audience is able to experience the conflicts and struggles that exist in our society, especially today. I have tried to keep it as real as possible so that the spectators can connect with the characters at an emotional level,” explains Bose.
“Theatre opens our mind. In the past, I have worked on social issues like child abuse, ragging in colleges and dowry, but I avoid making a statement or passing judgement. Theatre or any other form of art should not serve as a tool for activism,” says Bose. Flesh, does, however raise questions about what is perceived as right and wrong in today’s times.
Flesh will be staged on 18 January, 7pm, at India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road (24682222).