Women today would identify with Draupadi

Women today would identify with Draupadi

Patriachal Society

She was a queen, wife to the mighty Pandavas yet she was a woman in a patriarchal society who held little sway over her own fate. 

Draupadi, an important character in the mythological epic Mahabharata might have lived in another era, but the fate she endured continues to befall numerous women in India and across the world even today.

Therefore, in an attempt to highlight the ironical state of women which hasn’t changed over the centuries, writer and director Atul Satya Kaushik of The Films and Theatre Society recently staged a play Draupadi at Epicentre, Gurgaon. The play is set in 1960s in one of the villages of Haryana and is an imaginative re-telling of certain chapters of Draupadi’s life that draws parallel between her and the women of today.

As the men of a large family of Haryanvi rural performers have gone out to attend a wedding feast, the women of the household decide to use the opportunity to re-enact an old play that was ‘banned’ by the male patriarchs. It was believed that the play would corrupt the minds of women.

Performing the play, the women take up the roles of all characters, including men, and reprise the tragedies of their own lives. In the process they discover how closely their lives are a reflection of Draupadi’s life. The intense story unfolds in an incredibly light and seamless way through music.

Just like all other productions of the theatre group Draupadi was also high on folk music. Actors sang many songs in different styles such as ragini, qawwali, ghazal and Heer to narrate a serious issue in a light way. The seriousness, however, is not lost and the play becomes a powerful commentary on the need of women emancipation.By bringing today's generation closer to mythology in a new and interesting way, the play makes them extract important meanings from it. 

Be it Draupadi’s failure to find the love of the man she chose, her objectification in the gamble played by Yudhishtir or her public humiliation – the village women manage to find parallels for each of these tragedies amidst their own lives. In the end the women draw the conclusion that nothing will change as far as the fate women is concerned.

“Draupadi is not just a mythical character, she’s a metaphor for women of all times and ages. There is no dearth of Draupadis in our world, they are everywhere – be it in the villages of Haryana, in the thriving metropolitan of Delhi, in the slums of Mumbai, on the streets of Ahmadabad or in a village of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwah. This play talks about the helplessness of being a woman in a male dominated world which most of the women must have felt even today,” says Kaushik.