Vijay Tendulkar's Plays and Society

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Vijay Tendulkar’s works and society
Post independence, the 50s and 60s were decades when a new India was being built. Every field was moving towards change. Marathi theatre too, which was hitherto trapped in melodrama and mediocrity, was moving towards this change. Veterans like Bhau Padhyay, Jayavant Dalvi and Vijay Tendulkar, among many more brought about this change. Journalist turned playwright, novelist, short story writer and screenplay writer, Vijay Tendulkar was known for his portrayal of that real, ugly face of the Indian middle class which most people found uncomfortable to deal with. This portrayal of reality drew him into many controversies. He battled bans and censor boards to take his message across to his audience. Tendulkar was known to be a playwright who was much ahead of his times. During the 60s and the 70s, i.e. when Tendulkar’s plays began getting staged, our society was largely an optimistic one, comfortable in its own shell. It was a society that was hopeful for change, but at the same time, it was unwelcoming of the realities Tendulkar was addressing through his works. Tendulkar’s works revolved around various themes like revenge, hypocrisy, patriarchy and violence. His works are timeless and, though around fifty years old, they are as relevant today as they were then. Tendulkar’s plays were aimed at the middle class, and he always managed to unknowingly shock the middle class. He showed them, through his plays, that ugly side of them which they preferred to hide. He realistically portrayed the complex relation between the common man and society. He did not take a moral stand in his plays. He attempted to find realistic solutions to the violence and hypocrisy without being too naïve and simplistic. The central theme of his plays was ‘situations make men behave like animals towards other men’, and he effectively brought this out through his works. Vijay Tendulkar was the first playwright who took Marathi theatre outside Maharashtra. His works, Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe, Kamla, Kanyadaan, Sakharam Binder, Ghashiram Kotwal, Gidhade, Baby and Ashi Paakhre Yeti, among many others created ripples across Maharashtra and elsewhere. The timelessness of his works, the multiple layers to each story, the amoral stand taken by most of his leading characters make Vijay Tendulkar one of the greatest Indian playwrights of all times. Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe

Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe is the story of a young, single, independent actress and school teacher, Leela Benare. The setup of the play is a mock trial where her fellow actors accuse her of infanticide. What starts as a s joke, ends up in a revelation that Leela Benare is actually guilty of aborting her illegitimate child with a married man. The play takes the audiences through Leele Benare, first as a playful, happy young woman and then as someone who uses her playful, jovial nature as a defense mechanism to save her from society and reality. Tendulkar exposes the hypocrisy and double standards of the middle class, thus making a comment on how morals play such an important role in society. Benare is victimized to immense mental trauma by her fellows Sukhatame, Karnik and Mr. and Mrs. Kashikar. How an independent, urban educated woman is treated and looked down upon in a patriarchy is the central theme of this play. Benare is ganged up against by society for what she does in her personal life. The play ends with Benare passing out because of the immense psychological trauma she is subjected to and Mrs. Kashikar trying to comfort her. As Satyadev Dubey and Vijaya Mehta put it, Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe is probably Tendulkar’s most important work. Shantata depicts immense psychological violence. It shows the double standards present in the middle class society. Satyadev Dubey adds that the middle class does not find this play violent because they are unaware of the violence that is present within them. Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe was first staged in...
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