Dushyantapriya: Marathi musical drama with a queer theme



Attempting to break boundaries of conventions of love, marriage and gender stereotypes, Dushantapriya is the first ever queer adaptation of Shakuntalam

Ticket rates: Rs 500 / Rs 200 / Rs 150

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“Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field! I will meet you there.” says the 13th century poet Rumi. Taking the same line of thought and attempting to break boundaries of conventions of love, marriage and gender stereotypes, Dushantapriya is an inspiration from Kalidasa’s Sanskrit play Abhigyan Shakuntalam written by Sarang Bhakre.

This play within a play, has Rohit; a 20 something lad from small town Karjat playing the role of deer in the staging of Shakuntal. In an unforeseen circumstance, the girl playing Shakuntala leaves the play. Just two weeks are left for the opening of the play and this news sends shivers down the director’s spine. This is when Rohit offers to do the proxy of Shakuntala. He does it with such an ease that the director decides that all the women roles will be done by boys and they’ll meet the deadline. This puts two men Rohit and Sushil opposite each other on stage doing roles of lovers breaking the conventional boundary of man and woman! A character points out, “We have had a history of men doing the roles of women extraordinarily well…take Balgandharva for instance!” Now the fun does not stop here. Chetan and Abhi, two straight guys and befitting the macho stereotypes are forced to play Priyamvada and Anasuya, the friends of Shakuntala. This is completely unacceptable to Chetan and Abhi but keeping the job means doing the roles.

With such an intricate crisscross of emotions and blurring the ideas of gender & sexuality, this play intercuts between the real lives of these characters vis-à-vis the characters they are portraying on stage! Till now they had only heard that “life imitates art and vice-a-versa” but will this happen with them as well? How will Rohit differentiate between the character of a woman which he does with such ease and his real life? Will it have any impact on how he leads his own life? Will his suppressed emotions be let free with this? Will Sushil be able to reciprocate romantically to a man portraying the role of a woman? What effect will this have on his relationship with Rohit off-stage? How will the two straight men do the roles of women? Will they have some take away on gender and sexuality by the end of the play? To answer these questions and many more watch the first ever queer adaptation of Abhigyan Shakuntalam.

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