Taking a surprisingly regressive stance, the organisers of Mahavidyalaya Natya Samaroh, a theatre competition organised by Sahitya Kala Parishad in New Delhi disqualified a play called 'Shahira Ke Naam' for purported use of indecent language.
A play revolving around six women in a girls' hostel, 'Shahira Ke Naam' contained mentions of women's undergarments, which did not go down well with the organisers of the fest. Radhika Dhawan, president of the theatre society from Kamla Nehru College, said, “One of the judge said to us: ‘ran**, ha**mi, bolne mein koi dikkat nahi hai, you think about what else you’ve said’. Why the shame in using these words (bra/panty) when they’re just undergarments?”
The fact that the organisers took offence to a mention of undergarments, but had no issues with caste-derived insults, exposes our deep-seated hypocrisy. The students of this college, along with anti-discrimination body Pinjra Tod, organised a protest they dubbed ‘An Ode to Bra, Panty and the Sahitya Kala Academy', wherein they hung bras on the wall of the Shri Ram Centre as a symbol of their dissent.
They were later informed that their disqualification had been rolled back, and only marks were deducted for their choice of language.
Teacher-convener Monami Basu took to Facebook to express her disapproval of the matter. It is not merely the disqualification that was contentious, she said, but the very idea of the taboo-ization of women's undergarments- and by extension, everyday matters like sexual desire, and menstruation- that was disturbing.
While the unique protest deserves a nod, the circumstances that led to it are worrying- more so because they originated in the creative sphere, where narrow notions of propriety are injurious to free expression.
Information source Hindustan Times
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