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Performance as Protest: Thumri and Tawaif’s Quest for Artistic Autonomy

Shramana Das Purkayasth, Vijaygarh Jyotish Ray College, Kolkata, India

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Abstract

Indian cultural history testifies to the intimate bond the tawaifs had for centuries with the performing arts. Be it the pre-Mughal folk culture of rural India or the highly sophisticated culture of classical music in the Mughal courts, the tawaifs had always remained at the focal point of it. However conservative social paradigm never allowed them to belong to the mainstream Indian society. Concepts of honour, chastity and occupational propriety, with which patriarchy regulates a woman’s individual choices, constrained the tawaif to inhabit a limited space, isolated and solitary, alluring, yet infamous. In the present paper, I propose to explore how thumri reflects the tawaif’s own consciousness of her contradictory status as an outcast as well as an artist, indispensable to India’s musical heritage. Through a detailed structural analysis of the genre, I would discuss how the textual world of thumri with its distinctive formal and performative peculiarities supplies the tawaif with a potentially subversive “action repertoire”, enabling the nautch-girl to voice her desperate demand for autonomy.

The Therapeutic Value of Indian Classical, Folk and Innovative Dance Forms

Arpita Chatterjee, Barasat College, West Bengal State University, India

Dance provides an active, non-competitive form of exercise that has potential positive effects for physical health as well as mental and emotional wellbeing. Dance therapy is based on the idea that body and mind are co-relational. The therapeutic approaches with various forms of Indian dances are a new entrant to dance literature. Ayurveda held dance as a power of healing (therapy) and inner awareness (psychology). Indian philosophy also supports the facts of Sangeet (song, dance and music) for benefit of human health physically as well as mentally. The powerful dance form of Bhangra (Punjab), Karagam (Tamilnadu), Chou, Rayabese, Dhali (West Bengal) gives good health and strength. The fast footwork of Kathak dance helps to release anger and tension. Manipuri dancers make rounded movements and avoid any jerks, sharp edges or straight lines. It gives them undulating and soft appearance, proper body control and peace of mind. All these body movements, body balancing, expression, muscle movement, muscle constriction and relaxation have a strong effect on therapeutic movements. In India today the dance therapists are conscious about this matter and in therapeutic sessions they actually improvise different dance movements according to the need.

The ‘Blue Flame’: An ‘Elliptical’ Interaction between Kahlil Gibran and Rabindranath Tagore

Indrani Datta (Chaudhuri)

Vidyasagar University, India

Volume 2, Number 1, 2010Download PDF Version
DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v2n2.02

Abstract:

This paper focuses on certain aporias in the life and works of a Lebanese American writer, Kahlil Gibran, that reveal his idiosyncratic interest in and preoccupation with India, neither his native nor his adopted country. It also charts out the ‘elliptical’ connection that this Lebanese immigrant forged with the Indian Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. A “belated” (Behdad 1) reading of these aspects opens up the possibility of critiquing Gibran’s life and writings through the theoretical framework of Nico Israel’s “outlandish”-ness (ix), a state that exists between, as Israel has stated, “exilic emplacement” and “diasporic self-fashioning” (16-17). This kind of “reading behind” (Behdad 4) rewrites “a kind of philosophical décalage” (2) that ruptures existing West-centric discourses by destabilizing and displacing them through “other locations…other trajectories of subjectivity, and…forms of knowledge” (Behdad 1). My critiquing of Gibran’s life and texts, in this manner, show how his sense of identity, generated out of trans-cultural and transnational spaces, not only engenders a counter discursive practice to the West-centric politics of exclusion but also tries to rescue non-Western writers, and their literatures, from the “anamnesiac order” (Behdad 3) of such politics.

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