In my play Sindhu, Sudhakar, Rum ani Itar (SSRI), I revisited a 1919 Marathi popular play, Ekach Pyala. The characters in Ekach Pyala come alive in the fascinating script of Ekach Pyala. They also live through anecdotes I have read, and the stories of Balgandharv who played Sindhu and Taliram, household names for middle-class Maharashtrians. As I began rereading Ekach Pyala, the characters that lived out there through stories and books began reappearing and fusing together in my mind. Writing SSRI was like a face-morphing, body-morphing, time-morphing game. Confusing and infusing something that was outside as well as living inside me.
Strangely, while writing, the scary childhood story of God Narsinha sitting at the threshold and tearing the rakshasa’s belly would come to my mind. But, in my play, I was not killing someone. In fact, I was living the life of someone who lived in different time and space.
Now, as I am writing this, Frank Underwood of the Netflix series, House of Cards comes to mind. My fascination for House of Cards is a recent thing in my life. Watching it is like an addiction. In one episode, Frank plays around with pictures of him and his wife, Claire. He morphs the pictures as two become one in the game of ambition and power.
But again, SSRI is not about becoming one. It’s about distinct identities, spaces, circumstances and at the same time fusing them together. I love the calendar picture of three-headed God Dutta with entire universe around him. Towards the end of SSRI, Sudhakar aka Inder tells Sindhu aka Rama/Rum that she looks like God Dutta.
Inder: Datta Datta Aise Lagale Dhyan..You look like split into three faces
Rama: (Smiles) Nonsense!
Inder: Seriously. One Sindhu’s, another Rama’s
Rama: And third?
Inder: Two mixed
I am interested in this kind of the threshold-ness of being at the middle and alert to simultaneously existing worlds. I can have a feeling of beginning and ending at the same time. It’s about introduction, beginning, end, limitation, encounter, difference, middle, domesticity, foreignness, familiarity, orbit and so on.
Also, inside and outside merge at the threshold to give way to another current. I love watching the ongoing game of merging and splitting apart. The game is inspirational. I feel contemporary time and circumstances are potent for the game.
Merging, splitting way and threshold is also focus of this हाकारा । hākārā edition. As you will read, contributions in Outside, Inside, In-between compliment as well as take forward our focus.
For instance, the play Mi’raj by Nisha Abdulla. The play is a critical response to defining boundaries of outside and inside that is determined by the demarcation between the fabricated reality ‘outside’ and domestic ‘inside’. Mi’raj succinctly portrays contradictions in the ‘inside’ world of emotions of an individual, faith and religiosity crossed over by the ‘outside’ politics, factional fighting, violence, and brutality.
The play and other contributions in this edition confirm the belief that Outside/Inside would be revealed in different forms but they can’t be considered as fixed categories. They demand dialogic process. And, with the threshold as a transformative state with movement between outside and inside may create possibilities of engagement.
Of course, there is a challenge. The transformative spaces of outside/inside are risked as they are comprised and critical, at the same time. The outside/inside interchanges keep open space to appropriate from the Left, Right or Centre. As a result, the defining of positions, of any kind, becomes negotiable. It also becomes extremely relative at a point. Purogami or liberal is the case in hand. Everyone can claim to be liberal and create ambivalence or paradoxes. A reason is that the transformational spaces blur boundaries of power of regime and power of freedom. Society makes us live with the overlapping of both. It may be aware of contradictions but doesn’t want to acknowledge it. Chaos is obvious. Nevertheless, unfortunately, contemporary society doesn’t want to reflect on it. Since it doesn’t acknowledge it, it makes us believe that there is no chaos. The danger is that we can choose to be unperturbed in the chaos.