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Shantata Court Chalu Aahe: A Marathi Play by Vijay Tendulkar
Shantata Court Chalu Aahe (Silence! The Court Is in Session) is a Marathi play written by Indian playwright Vijay Tendulkar in 1963 and first performed in 1967. It is a political and social satire on the hypocrisy of middle-class society, especially towards women. The play has been translated into several languages and adapted into films and television shows.
The play is set as a play-within-a-play, where a travelling amateur theatre group makes an unscheduled stop at a village. To pass time, they decide to stage a mock trial of one of their female members, Miss Leela Benare, who is unmarried, sexually exploited and had earlier aborted a child to keep her honour. During the course of the play, she is 'charged' with infanticide, adultery and immorality, and as the charges get more vicious and personal, she breaks down, revealing the true story behind her plight. The play also exposes the hegemony and hypocrisy of the male cast members, who are not blameless themselves, but find it easy to judge and condemn a woman's character.
The play was inspired by a 1956 novel, Die Panne (Traps) by Swiss playwright Friedrich DÃrrenmatt, and by an incident that Tendulkar overheard on a Mumbai local train, where an amateur theatre group was travelling to perform a mock trial at a suburb. The play was written in 1963 for Rangayan, a Mumbai-based theatre group, but was performed much later in 1967, directed by Arvind Deshpande, with Sulbha Deshpande as the main lead. The play received national recognition and won several awards, including the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Award for drama in 1970 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for playwriting in 1970.
The play has been translated into 16 languages in India and abroad, and has been adapted into various media forms. The BBC showed its English version, filmed by Satyadev Dubey. Om Shivpuri directed the Hindi translation of the play as Khamosh! Adaalat Jaari Hai (Silence! The Court Is in Session), with his wife Sudha Shivpuri in the lead role. Satyadev Dubey also directed a Marathi film based on the play in 1971, which marked the debut of actors Amrish Puri and Amol Palekar, and of Govind Nihalani as a cinematographer. The film is considered one of India's finest films and started the New Cinema movement in Marathi cinema. In 2017, Ritesh Menon directed another Hindi film based on the play with the same name as the Hindi translation.
Shantata Court Chalu Aahe is a powerful and relevant play that explores the themes of gender inequality, social injustice, moral corruption and human dignity. It is a masterpiece of Indian theatre that challenges the audience to question their own prejudices and values.
The play has received critical acclaim from various quarters for its bold and realistic portrayal of the oppression and exploitation of women in patriarchal society. The play also highlights the role of theatre as a medium of social critique and resistance, as well as a tool of manipulation and domination. The play exposes the contradictions and complexities of human nature, and the power dynamics that shape human relationships.
The play has been praised for its innovative use of language, structure and symbolism. The play uses a mix of Marathi dialects, English words and legal jargon to create a realistic and humorous effect. The play also breaks the conventional rules of drama by using a non-linear narrative, multiple levels of reality, and an open-ended conclusion. The play uses various symbols, such as the bell, the chair, the fan and the mirror, to convey different meanings and emotions. The play also employs irony, sarcasm and satire to expose the hypocrisy and absurdity of the characters and their actions.
The play has been hailed as a landmark in Indian theatre history, and has influenced many playwrights and directors. The play has also been studied and analysed by scholars and critics from various disciplines, such as literature, sociology, psychology, law and gender studies. The play has been recognised as a classic of modern Indian drama, and a masterpiece of Vijay Tendulkar's oeuvre. 248dff8e21