Archetype In 'Mrrcchkatikam' By Girish Karnad

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Mrcchkatikam is a play from the 3rd-4th century CE (part of kavya literature) that forms the basis for director Girish Karnad’s 1984 movie “Utsav”. While the plot revolves around the love sparked between Vasantsena, a renowned courtesan, and Charudatt, a poor virtuous Brahmin, it covers the over-arching themes of society’s socio-sexual conscience against the backdrop of political upheaval.
Charudatt, the male protagonist, fits perfectly into the kavya archetype of the nagaraka. He is ha educated, refined and manly. The nagaraka in the kavyas epitomizes the urban tendency to pursue “art as pleasure and pleasure as art”- according to Shonaleeka Kaul’s article on Pleasure and Culture. In that sense, it would not be unfair to call Charudatt the
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She is proficient in singing, dancing, improvising poetry and is a good conversationalist, indeed embodying the ideal ganika- defined as the epitome of artistic and other graciousness. She is no less than a celebrity, known and respected by the people of the town. It seems that the addition of culture has a subjugating effect on the concept of sexual pleasure and the stigma attached to the profession based on it. Thus, the cultural sophistication of the witty and skilled, refined and elegant courtesan causes her to garner a certain respect and in the process seems to dilute the stigmatization of her profession. However, the ganika is to engage with the nagaraka in the act of pleasure as a matter of profession, not indulgence. Profit, not real love is the courtesan’s object as is also mentioned by Shonaleeka Kaul. The establishment of a relationship out of love and attraction for the qualities of a man is against the normative code- as Vasantsena does with Charudatt. This is indicative of a clash between the courtesan’s refinement and her supposed moving force, money. The movie does a good job of showing this dichotomy between the rich boor (Samsthanak) and the poor victimized gentleman (Charudatt). After being pursued by Samsthanak, when Vasantsena going against the will of her mother, still rationalizes her love for Charudatt, her mother …show more content…
Charudatt’s wife, Aditi, is the embodiment of the “kulastri”, the family woman and completes the picture of the societal feminine values of humility and modesty. Aditi is the paragon of the purity and silence expected of the wife, apart from her resignation and the obvious blind-eye she turns to her husband’s romantic conquests, even going to the extent of referring to Vasantsena as her child’s second mother. This goes to show the plight of the family woman, docile and timid; she has to resign to the acts of her husband, even if it means accepting

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