Major Themes in Vijay Tendulkar’s ‘Kamala’

The play expresses Vijay Tendulkar‘s grasp of the harsh realities in our social fabric. In the words of Tendulkar, ‘Kamala for me is not just a character, she is a living person and she just doesn‘t remain on paper”. The play exposes a flesh trade scoop and its aftermath. It deals with the issue of buying and selling of tribal women. The theme of Kamala is flesh trade, and how well-known young journalists like Jaisingh Jadhav seek to capitalize on it in order to further succeed in their careers without caring, in the least, for the victims of this immoral trade in a democratic society like India.

The play also offers Tendulkar enough scope at the kind of trendy journalism practised by Jadhav, and also to strike a contrast between the journalism in the vernacular and that in English. Tendulkar used the play also to dwell on the characteristic suffering of the Indian middle class woman made to suffer by selfish, malicious and hypocritical male chauvinists. The man-woman relationship is also deftly touched upon in the complex relationship between Jadhav and his wife, Sarita. Kamala is a female centred play in the sense that it is built on the metamorphasis of Sarita emerging Form being a docile wife to an assertive, mature and strong woman in the end.

Kamala is a satire on the trendy journalism shown in it. Jadhav is indifferent to the humaneness. He is capable of sacrificing human values. The husband-wife relationship between Sarita and Jaisingh is typical of the sort existing in cities like Delhi where executive husbands do not find adequate time for their wives.

In the play, Tendulkar has made a rude remark at the modern concept of journalism which stresses on sensationalism. That Kakasaheb edits a paper published in vernacular while Jadhav‘s medium is English, also helps to highlight the elitist nature of journalism practised by him. Tendulkar has tried to drive home the fact that it is the dailies in vernacular alone that reach the masses. And none can affect any meaningful social or political change in India through English dailies as they reach only to a very small section of Indian population.

The play not only scoffs at the hypocrisy of the urban middle class but also darts glancing barbs on power hungry politicians and unscrupulous press barons who work hand in metropolitan centres like Delhi. For instance Kakasaheb observes “Our houseboy becomes the defence minister; he‘s got one foot in Delhi and the other in Karad. And finally he‘s neither one thing nor the other”.

Towards the close, Jadhav‘s dismissal results from his proprietor Sheth Singhania‘s questionable association with some political bigwigs of Delhi. The play also attacks the hawkish politicians, political figures who, instead of having the spirit of nationalism and working for the betterment of the nation are busy in their own importunate welfare. The play stands against such an allegedly corrupt system. It is a reminder that such a despotic government needs to be amended. Kamala jibes at the contemporary political setup comprising of petty minded, mealy mouthed and opportunistic politicians who believe that running a nation is more of a trade and the aim is to earn more and more profit. The play points out the mechanization of power at various levels and the digression of moral values in a socio-political era.

There is inimitable satire and sarcasm aimed at the very core of dualism and in humanity of the male chauvinists in the Indian middle class society.

The play also offers Tendulkar enough scope to launch his diatribe against the presumptuous and reckless news reporters working for English dailies. It lays a strong stress on ethics.

The role of gender in power game is obvious in Kamala which focuses directly on the position of women in a patriarchal society. Here, Tendulkar has underlined both the dark ambiguity of the cardboard figures of power and the real dangers of this never ending struggle for supremacy in the society in which gender has always played a pivotal role.

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