“Bharatnatyam is the craft of a prostitute to show off her wares. What business does a man have learning such a craft?”
How far can a man pursue his art?
Jairaj Parekh was an accomplished Bharatnatyam dancer in his youth, but fails to achieve fame at the highest levels of his art. He is thwarted by his father and even his wife, even though she herself is a dancer.
All societies limit women in the choices they can make. But men too have boundaries that they cannot easily cross.
Jairaj wants to dance. But Bharatnatyam is a woman’s art. In his father’s words – “Bharatnatyam is the craft of a prostitute” – referring to the devdasis who preserved the dance form. Jairaj doesn’t have an independent income. He depends upon his wealthy father to support him and his family. A battle of wills ensues, but eventually, Jairaj loses, and stops dancing.
What does it mean to be a man? Must man always be the provider? Is dance a man’s art form? Is Bharatnatyam? Jairaj’s role in the play is an exploration of these questions and his relationships with his father and his wife.
I play the present day Jairaj (Ritesh Jaltare plays the younger Jairaj.) The role is a tough, exacting role. Under the guidance of our director, Sindu Singh, I hope I am able to do justice to it.
And here’s the answer to what all my friends want to know - no, I won’t be dancing on stage!
- Basab Pradhan