Sohini Basu (Hyderabad, India): Dwikhondita (Split in Two)

  • 20 Jun 2021 5pm UTC
  • dur 13min

Sohini\’s performance “Dwikhondita” (Split in Two) is based on Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘Karna and Kunti Sambad’ (Dialogue between Karna and Kunti), set against the backdrop of the preparations for the great war between the rival collateral houses of the Pandavas and the Kauravas. Tagore snaps a pair, a mother and an ill-fated son – Kunti, the mother of the Pandavas and her eldest son, Karna, whom she had cast away as a baby on the waters. Tagore dramatizes the moments of intense emotional crises, when Kunti goes to Karna to demand the lease of Arjuna’s (her third son’s) life. She asserts her lost motherhood and reveals hesitantly her identity to Karna. She admits that because of her cowardice, Karna suffered the pangs of humiliation. But the power of her love fails to capture his duty. Kunti, then, tempts him of the mighty kingdom. Neither her appeals nor the glamour of kingdom motivate Karna to betray his foster mother. Sohini\’s performance from Kunti’s perspective will remind us of the rigorous self-consciousness that goes into even the most playful gender-bending. In the performance of this play gender will be \”alienated\” or foregrounded, the spectator is enabled to see a sign system as a sign system-the appearance, words, gestures, ideas, attitudes, etc., that comprise the gender lexicon become so many illusionistic trappings to be put on or shed at will. The performance will consider gender as ideology-as a system of beliefs and behaviours mapped across the bodies of females, which reinforces a social status quo-and appreciates the continued timeliness of Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt, the purpose of which is to denaturalize and defamiliarize what ideology makes seem normal, acceptable, inescapable.

BIO: Sohini Basu is a theatre and dance artist for more than two decades. A Nrtiya Prabhakar in Kathak dance – an Indian classical dance form, and a trained theatre practitioner from Lebedoff School at Russian Cultural Centre, Kolkata, India, she is now a part of the theatre group, Shudrka Hyderabad in India. She is also an All India Radio artist in elocution and drama divisions. She has performed in more than 15 stage plays and 20 radio dramas and elocution programmes. Her deepest passion is to find a way to combine her background in Bengali (her mother tongue) theatre with her current explorations in dance and theatre for social change. Apart from acting, she oversees, implements and ensures sustainability of her theatre group, Shudrka Hyderabad’s operations, programs, finances and community support. She works in partnership with the Director of the group as peers in the organizational structure and directs administration, audience services, marketing and communications, funding; supports and arranges theatre workshops in schools for young learners and teachers; works closely with the Director to schedule rehearsals, plans and enhances artistic excellence and audience experience; writes applications and articles for participation in festivals. She is also trained in economics and gender studies. Her association with the social development sector for more than 15 years has given her the opportunity to work with women, children and the community at large and has helped her to use her histrionic skills in empowerment, skill development of beneficiaries and for advocacy purposes.