Critical Summary of Vijay Tendulkar’s ‘Kamala’

Kamala is a play written in the naturalistic mode. Though not a political play in any sense, Kamala is a topical drama inspired by a real life incident. The Indian Express expose by Ashwin Sarin, who actually bought a girl from a rural flesh market and presented her at a press conference. Using this incident as a launching pad, Tendulakar raises certain cardinal questions regarding the value system of a modern success oriented generations who are ready to sacrifice human values even in the name of humanity itself. The innate self deception of this standpoint is exposed dramatically by the play wright. At the centre of the play is a self – seeking journalist, Jaisingh Jadhav, who treats the women he has bought from the flesh market as an object that can buy him a promotion in his job and a reputation in his professional life. He is one of those modern day individuals with a single track mind, who pursue their goal unquestioningly. Jadhav never stops to think what will happen to Kamala after this expose. Tendulkar takes a jibe at the modern concept of journalism which stresses the sensational. For this, he uses Kakasaheb, a journalist of the old school, who runs a small paper with his own resources.

Kakasaheb provides the true ideals of journalism and in contrast to these, Jadhavs concept of newspaper reporting is shown in a critical light. Jadhav‘s medium is English also helps to highlight the elitist nature of journalism practiced by Jadhav. By introducing Jadhav‘s colleague into the play Tendulkar is able to depict the true nature of the ratrace that goes on in this milieu.

But there is more to Kamala than this jibe at contemporary journalism. Once again, Tendulakar explores the position of women in contemporary Indian society through Sarita, Jadhavs wife, who is in her own way as exploited as Kamala Tendulakar exposes the chauvinism intrinsic in the modern Indian male who believes himself to be liberal minded Like Kamala. Sarita is also an object in Jadhavs life, an object that provides physical enjoyment social companionship and domestic comfort. Kamala‘s entry into the household reveals to ‘sarita‘ the selfish hypocrisy of her husband and the insignificance of her own existence. Yet, she does not have the spirit to rebel against Jadhav when at the close of the play, he is treacherously deprived of his job. But the dramatist also suggests that Sarita cannot unlearn what she had come to realize and at the end of the play, there is a faint hope of her attaining independence sometime in the future, Kamala & Sarita are both built of the same material as his other protagonists like Leela Benare in ‘Silence‘ Rama in Gidhade‘ and Laxmi in Sakharam. The other type of women that Tendulkar portrays is more selfish and assertived, Manik in Gidhade, Champa in Sakharam and, Vijaya in Muqabla

From the formal point of view Kamala has nothing new to contribute to Marathi theatre but there Tendulkar has always claimed that it is the content of his work that determines the form and it is difficult to think of any alternative structure into which the central theme of kamala could be cast. The play provides a completely novel point of view

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