Style technique in girish karnad’s “hayavadana”
If style maketh the man, it follows from the proverbial dictum that from one’s style the person behind it can be deciphered. However with the case of Girish Karnad, though we comprehend a style, it is a style that cannot be compartmentalized. Being a versatile genius, his style and theme varies. InYayati , we find a story from the Mahabharata fused with Western form. In Tughlaq a theme from History mingled with Parsi theatre. InNagamandala, an oral fable mingled with domestic reality and in Hayavadana the myth from Kathasarithasagara is utilized to echo a universal issue.
Regarding Hayavadana, Girish Karnad himself says in the introduction to his Three Plays-, the answer given in the Kathasarithasagarais- since the head represents the person, the person with the husband’s head is actually the husband . “Mann brings his relentless logic to bear upon this solution-if the head is the determining limb then the body should represent change to fit its head. ” The story primarily fascinated Karnad for the scope it gave to masks and theatre. Western theatre generally distinguished between the face and the mask. They were the means to present to the world, the real inner person and the exterior .
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Karnad tells us that in traditional Indian Theatre, the mask is not only the face writ large since the character represents not a psychological entity but an ethical archetype. The mask therefore points in enlarged detail to its moral nature. And this is why in Hayavadana , the characters have no real names. The heroine is called Padmini after one of the six categories into which Vatsyayana classified all women. Her husband is Devadutta (meaning a formal mode of addressing a stranger) and Kapila is simply the ‘dark one’. The author’s scope for character-detailing is therefore limited in the Main story.
But they make up for the limitation by operating as powerful metaphors. Devadutta stands for the head (we address the person by means of his head),Kapila(the dark one)-body and Padmini serves to elaborate on the relationship between the head and the body. The narrative forms a Chinese box structure, where we have two stories within the main story. The first one of the Bhagavada, the second of Hayavadana and the main plot shuttles between the two. The Bhagavada becomes the essence permeating the two stories, functioning as a unifying force. The Bhagavada performs the role of the author,;he is very unlike the typical Bhagavada in
Indian drama who appears only at the beginning and end of the play and is very passive throughout. Like the Greek chorus, he initiates, concludes and comments upon the play. Songs are sung and criticisms are made. The drama only functions as a kind of metadrama in that certain metafictional elements are observed. The child of Padmini comes into contact with the Bhagavada who recognizes him. Strict objectivity is practised in that it is the Bhagavada who tells the story. Also we have actors running across the stage echoing a kind of existential freedom as in Pirandello Six Characters in Search of an Author.
Sartre had a formidable influence on Girish Karnad. Humour is utilized- from Kali yawning to the horse singing the National anthem. Traits of Yakshagana are seen in the last scene where the fight is stylized like a dance and in the appearance of the Goddess Kali. The influence of the Natak Companies is evident with the use of drop curtains. “Music-usually percussion-then further distances the action, placing it in the realm of the mythical and elemental. ” Again, expressionist techniques are used in certain scenes: when Devadutta comes and sits beside Kapila, they assume positions to echo their stance.
Symbolism is utilized in plenty. Padmini’s door has the picture of a two-headed bird that highlights the duality of her personality. Further, the names are also symbolic. The symbol of Ganesha right at the beginning of the play is a powerful symbol for the head/body dichotomy. The child biologically belongs to Devadutta’s head and Devadutta’s body; however, it exhibits qualities of Kapila in its violence and unintelligible activities. The mole of Kapila remains, on his shoulder and on his identity. The body reigns supreme here.
To cap it all, Padmini prefers Kapila over Devadutta; the body over the head at every instance. She utters the name of Kapila before Devadutta always (101,104). Moreover, the child prefers the horse to human; bodily instinct reigns over human intelligence yet again. Therefore Karnad’s primary motive in writing the play was to ponder upon the significance of the body in one’s identity and hence reverses the dichotomy head/body in his title. This is the significance of the title that powerfully echoes the theme of the drama. Critics have talked of Brecht’s influence on Girish Karnad-with his alienation techniques.
Karnad refutes this charge saying that “character as a psychological construct providing a focus for emotional identification, the willing suspension-of-disbelief syndrome, the notion of a unified spectacle” was never a part of traditional Indian theatre. Therefore, the traditional Indian theatre also verged on ‘defamiliarization’. What Brecht did was he made Indians aware of the non-naturalistic techniques that thrived in their form of theatre. These techniques can been seen in Hayavadanaalso, where we are intellectually stimulated, instead of being emotionally drained.