Chandala – Understanding honour the rustic way

I was skeptical at first. After all, Tamil was not my second language. The fear of not being able to understand the dialogues or storyline made me think twice about my decision to watch ‘ Chandala’. Then again, my regret had converted to relief within less than 30 minutes.

A scene from the play ‘Chandala’

The plot

The play, staged by Indianostrum Theatre at the The Hindu Theatre Fest in Chennai’s Music Academy, is set in present day Tamil Nadu. Jack, a dalit, is in love with Janani, a brahmin girl who yearns to study further. Despite being sure of their feelings for each other, Jack had failed to anticipate the “unpleasant yet expected”. A difference in caste backgrounds and the apparent associations with the ‘correct and justified’ way of life led to pertinent questions about this relationship and the society’s stance on human life.

A scene from the play ‘Chandala’

Powerful in an unconventional manner

A scene from the play 'Chandala'
A scene from the play ‘Chandala’

Chandala is a bold play. It was meant for the public at large. This was evident from dialogues and the use of certain modern-day elements. The play also drew parallels with regards to the lives of people from different communities. It showcased similarities like the love for cinema, music, dance etc. Yet, it did instill a certain fear about the reality that we are part of. Most interestingly, Chandala saw a combination of different presentations – musicals, monoacts, and more. It even featured Cupid, the love master and a few Malayalam folk songs, relevant to the theme.

Always scope for improvement

A scene from the play 'Chandala'
A scene from the play ‘Chandala’

Indeed, I am no authority on Indian theatre. But it is my opinion that the play could have fine-tuned the initial scenes to ensure a smoother flow of the play.

The photographs were shot using a Nikon D300 with a 24-85mm VR lens