BWW Interview: Bollywood producer DEEPA TRACY On Why Her Play URVASHI Is Relevant In The Age Of #MeToo
Deepa Tracy is the director of Mantra Vision Pvt. Ltd. She has been working with Bollywood movies and her last venture in Bollywood Sulemani Keeda received a lopt of national and international appreciation. She is now back as a producer to tell a powerful tale on stage. Here Tracy talks about everything from feminism to #metoo
Tell us more about Urvashi
Urvashi is the latest initiative of Mantra Vision Pvt. Ltd., A spectacular mythological play - a cultural extravaganza for both Indian and International audiences. An enthralling Indian musical - a legend of love with an amalgamation of the values and virtues of self respect and individuality. The protagonist is created by a human sage and gifted to Indra, where she is bestowed the title of Apsara and gift of immortality. The drama is based on her struggle against the traditional mindset where women are looked upon as mere toys to satiate the desires. In today's # Me Too, age Urvashi stands out as a woman who stood her ground.
Why did you choose Kalidasa, the great poet. Do you Feel the ancient literature is relevant in today's times too ?
Kalidasa was a Classical Sanskrit writer, widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language of India. His plays and poetry are primarily based on the Vedas, the Mahabharata and the Puranas. He is believed to have written his plays and poems in the 4th -5th Century. Kalidasa knew the human psychology deeply, especially women psychology. He is a master of expressing emotions through actions. Literature is a reflection of humanity and a way for us to understand each other. ... I believe that literature is important because of its purpose and in a society, which is becoming increasing detached from human interaction.The plays written by Kalidasa are women centric. To mention a few - Vikramorvasiyam, Malavikagnimitram and Abhigyanshakuntalam are all based on the trials and tribulations faced by the woman protagonist. After enduring difficult circumstances and emotional upheavals and rejections, they end up being stronger. Human relations have not really changed over the centuries, and the women of to-day go through similar experiences, but are now standing up for their rights and the freedom to make their own choices.
What was your favourite part during the making of the play ?
Choosing the subject involved a lot of brain storming. Indian mythology and history have no dearth of strong women, and there have been lots of productions on Draupadi, Sita, Rani of Jhansi etc. Urvashi - is a lesser known character which is why we chose the play Vikramorvasiyam. Contemporising the play, adding in some fun elements to catch and hold the attention of the younger audiences. The challenge of seamlessly blending in a fusion of contemporary, classical and folk dance.
Why and what do you think we should borrow more from ancient Indian mythological tales?
Indian Civilization is one of the oldest living civilizations to-day. The ancient Egyptian, roman, Greek, Aztec, Mayan and other civilizations have been lost under the barrage of the Abrahamic religions, while Indian Civilization has been able to hold its own ground. Indian Mythology is one of the richest elements of Indian Culture, which enriches it further and makes it a unique one in the world. Through generations, different stories in Indian mythology have been passed from generation to generation either by word of mouth or through carefully stored scriptures.
India's glorious past has been lost in the haze of Westernisation in aftermath of the colonisation of India by the British. Modern India, like the rest of the world, is in a state of major transition as we, her people grapple with the enormous task required to balance science and modern technology with her cultural heritage. Indian culture had the resiliency to withstand over 300 years of Mughal conquest. Can we, now, withstand and survive the effects of Western materialism on our growing middle-class ? The younger generation's fascination for the materialistic culture is quite obvious. They are passing through a cultural crisis.
It has been a long-standing complaint that Indian youth are highly influenced by Western cultures. We should develop confidence and pride in our own culture and we need to take the lead to make others follow us. The stories that form the back bone of Indian Mythology impart values of Indian Culture.
- Shakuntala though she was deserted by her husband - the family accepted her choice of husband and even took her back and helped her to lead a normal life.
- Urvashi - stood up to Indra - the Lord of Lords and lived life on her own terms.
- Draupadi - a strong woman, intelligent, independent with a mind of her own.
The stories in Indian Mythology and Literature vary from conveying subtle values from Tales of Panchatantra and Jataka Tales to life paradigm defining stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagvad Geeta. It is our endeavor to bring forth the different elements of Indian mythology in a way which will create an interest in Indian culture and literature for our current generation.