Milaka podi is a play produced by Kattiyankari a theatre group consists men women and transgenders. It is based on a short story with the same name written by Bama- a Dalit woman writer.
The play is woven around two characters - Gengamma and Pachaiyamma. Gengamma is a land lord belongs to Naicker community. She is arrogant, cruel and living alone. She tortures her servants.
Pachaiyamma is a poor Dalit woman. She works hard to support her living. One day she collects grass from the field of Gengamma . Accidentally Gengamma came there and put chilly powder in the eyes of Pachaiyamma as a punishment . A few days later Pachaiyamma chased and thrashed Gengamma . The enmity grows like a wild plant.
Meanwhile the Dalit people started calling Gengamma as Milaka podi to ridicule her. One day the Dalit women failed to find work. So they went to the cotton field and collect cotton surreptitiously. Then Gengamma came there. Driven by anger she went and brought two policemen . Taking bribe the police men took the poor Dalit women to the station. On the way the women asked the policemen to allow them to urinate. They refused and ask ten rupees each as fine. Infuriated with this the women urinate at the station.
Living smile Vidya -a transgender, played the role of Pachaiyamma . Her performance is good. Another one transgender played the role of Gengamma . She also played it well. Performance of Some women - Amala, Kavinmalar - also worth to mention.
Though the lighting and music are good the play in total failed to make any impact because of the weak storyline . It is a stereotypical story. The Director of the play said that Dr A . Mangai only chose it. I wonder what induced her to do that. Because the portrayal of both Gengamma and Pachaiyamma are very naive and have no grain of feministic or Dalit perspective . It failed to interrogate why a woman like Gengamma behaves like that. The play reproduces the common sense notion and link the economic independence of a woman With abnormality and cruelty.
It also portrays the Dalit women in a poor light by shows them as thieves. This play simplify everything and romanticize the life of Dalits.
Thanks to Writer Ambai who organized the performance in part of a three days workshop of Dalit women writers here in Pondicherry . The workshop is in session up to 21st April.
I came out after the play and missed the opportunity to participate in the discussion. I believe that the participants are sensitive enough to raise these questions.