Identity in Oneself

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Quest For Identity In One Self: Tara.

Mahesh Dattani’s plays are first work shopped with his company Playpen in Bangalore. Dattani puts the finishing touches on his dialogue only when it is spoken aloud by the actors in rehearsals. He writes plays to be seen and heard, not literature to be read. Dattani bears life to the bone, dealing with gender issues. He is a spokesperson of all the marginalized people. He says, “Every individual wants to be a part of society, of the mainstream but we must acknowledge that it is a forced harmony,” The play Tara, written by Dattani in the year 1990, was first performed as Twinkle Tara at the Chowdish Memorial Hall, Bangalore on 23 October 1990 by Playpen performing Arts Group. Dattani was also awarded the Sahitya Kala Award for best production, Tara; in the year 2000.The play is performed on a multi-level set. The lower level occupies a major portion of the stage. It represents the house of the Patels. It is seen only in memory. The next level represents the bed-sitter of the older Chandan (referred to as Dan) in London. This is the realistic level. Behind, on a higher level is a chair in which Dr. Thakkar remains seated through out the play.

Tara is an ideal character of Dattani which has been widely applauded and variedly interpreted. Dattani himself has tried to depict the feminine side of one which always has to come to terms with the society which favours male in a male-dominated world. Tara gives a glimpse into the modern society which claims to be liberal and advanced in its thought and action. It is therefore evident enough to confirm male chauvinism prevalent in the present society. All the propagandas of equality between male and female, equal opportunities to women in all the fields are belied. Tara gives a picture of the helplessness of woman in the society. It has received great applause in foreign countries where students have pointed out Tara and Chandan as two aspects of same personality. But Dattani’s aim in writing this play was to highlight the preference given to a male child over a female child. Whenever the question of choice comes between male and female, it is the male who is chosen. Tara is a play about Tara and Chandan, twins conjoined at birth. The play revolves around Tara, Chandan, Bharathi, the mother and Mr. Patel, the father. The twins have three legs between them with major blood supply on the girl’s side. In an operation to separate the children, the mother and maternal grandfather decide to give the leg to the boy. But, the leg receives most of its blood supply from the girl and hence it has a better chance of survival in her. During the surgery the twins are separated in such a manner that Chandan have two legs while Tara has only one. The leg is wasted on Chandan as a piece of dead and decaying flesh. Perhaps it would have suited Tara’s body better. Bharathi’s love for Tara is obsessive. She expresses her love towards Tara to compensate for the wrong, which she had done her when she was a child. In order to overcome her guilt she tries to be over protective of her daughter. When Tara finally comes to know of the truth about her mother’s decision, her shock knows no bound. As the story proceeds, several physical complications arise in Tara and she dies. Chandan is left alone. He goes to live in London with his uncle and changes his name to Dan. He is unable to forget his guilt, which he feels over his sister’s death. He lives there without a personal history. The play Tara brings forth the reality of the woman playing second fiddle to man. It opens with Chandan changed into Dan in order to overcome from the guilt of killing his sister. Though he had nothing to do with his sister’s untimely death but he feels someway responsible for his sister’s death and decides to atone for it. For that reason, he escapes to London and transforms his name from Chandan to Dan and lives a self-condemned life. The cruelty of the grandfather and his mother not...
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