(the story of Nandan)
and Direction : Chandradasan
Translation: Shibu S. Kottaram
Sudheer Babu C. S.
Music: Sebi Nayarambalam
Duration of the play: 120 mts.
This production is an adaptation of the Tamil play written by Indira
Parthasarathy based on the myth of Nandanar. The myth is used to analyze
the institutionalization of the progressive aspirations and revolting
tendencies in social history. To suppress the revolutions, the main
stream society accepts and glorifies the revolt, thus by sabotaging
its purpose. The opposing force is often mystified and worshiped in
Nandanar is a legendary character in the Tamil psyche, who is believed
to be born in the Paraya community, one of the lower strata in the social
of Parayas is bonded agricultural laborers who lived in utter poverty,
in mud and darkness like a cow. Nandanar is dissatisfied with the life
lived by his class and dreams for an equal footing with the Pappans-
the elite. The myth proclaims Nandanars as the Avatar of lord Siva and
that finally he merged himself with the divine idol at Chithamparam
temple. One story says that Siva and his assistance have done the harvesting
This play demystifies the myth and hallo around Nanadanar. Indira Parthasarathy
calls his protagonist as Nandan and not Nandanar, the reverent God-figure.
He says that the turn-‘ar’ added to Nandan as the expression
of reverence is actually the Cross on his shoulder and is the real reason
for the tragedy that happened to him. The whole myth is placed and analyses
in the context of the sanskritisation of the tribal, native and folk
culture marginalizing them. In his dream for the salvation of his class
from that of the primitive bonded laborer, to a more radiant and aesthetically
appealing life, Nandan rejected the sensibilities of his class, his
own traditions, rites and rituals for the more elite.
and classic breed of the upper class. The elite Pundits suddenly recognize
the dangers Nandan is inducing, and they trap him by accepting eventually
glorifying him. The Brahmanical process of absorbing and glorifying
of marginal and opposing cultures is a continuous process through out
the history of India. The institutionalization of the rebellion to the
main stream is the best technique to defeat and sabotage a revolting
voice from the oppressed. This has happened to many a social, religious,
spiritual or political leader who tried to empower the oppressed class
and cast. The religious financial and political power centers unite
together in his pursuit. The play quotes the story of Buddha who preached
against the Vedic ideologist and the later acceptance by the same system
to negate his teachings effectively.
In this adaptation, the thrust is given to the pressure tactics, and
the games the main stream institution play to suppress the voice of
the oppressed and marginalized. Nandan is just an effigy for all those
victims through out the social history and not an individual. This is
implied in the production by sharing the character for different actors.
is on conflicts between the binary oppositions of the Dalit, and elite,
the privileged and the oppressed, the folk and the classic traditions.
The oppositions are theatrically expressed by the stylized movements
and gestures of the elite characters to the realistic and minimal movement
of the Parayas. The costumes, music and the behavior patterns also reveal
this polarity. The elite characters are engaged in corporal activities
like eating, chewing the thampoolam, sleeping, playing the game of chess,
enjoying the classical dance forms, or even in womanizing. The Parayas
are in turn engaged in agricultural activities, drinking toddy and offering
the same to their primitive Gods, or dancing to their folk rhythms.
The elite has their aesthetics based on the cosmic dance of Siva opposed
to the Dalit sensibility of beauty rooted in the movement of the paddy
fields in a breeze. Spatially this conflict is manifested in the arrangement
of the properties and the characters constituting a feudal space, a
slum space and a temple space.
The performance do not tries for a cathartic effect on the tragedy of
the protagonist but is aiming to capture the revolts and its defeat,
the struggles and the pain of this passing century in theatrical terms.
The production is in a casual open space and it joins the enquiry for
a visual language for the contemporary Indian theatre in form and in