An epic moment
A movement-based piece expands on the encounter between Shoorapanakha and Rama, and explores questions around the female body
Among the myriad female characters in Indian mythology, it may not be wrong to say that Shoorpanakha is one of the least-known. Ravana's sister, she offered herself to Rama and then Lakshmana during their exile, and invited the wrath of the latter, who cut off her nose and left ear — that's her story in a nutshell for most.
But for Bengaluru-based actor, writer and theatre worker Sunitha MR, the episode from the Ramayana "seems to capture, in an archetypal way, the male response to strong women today." In 2012, Bengaluru had seen a spate of attacks on women in "western clothes", and the memories of the Pink Chaddi campaign were fresh, too. It was in this context that the artiste started examining questions around the female body. "I was also looking at female desire... female sexuality and violence. The idea that an Indian woman is a de-sexualised, devotional, fully-clad woman who only has conjugal sex... I wanted to respond to all of it," she adds.
The two strands of thought came together in her work at a dance residency, and a movement-based piece was born. In Mumbai for an artiste residency at Studio Tamaasha, she will perform A Moment Magnified: Looking at Woo Man Investigations, and speak about the making of this work.
The current residency is an expansion of the ideas behind the core of Woo Man... "I have come with new research and questions to work with. I'm going to work with other voices in the episode — Sita, Rama and Lakshmana — and see where they take me. I will also be drawing on the history of Bharatanatyam, lavani as an art form, and scientific research on female desire," she says. On the 18th, Sunitha will present the findings of the residency in a looking-back session.
ON November 10, 7.30 pm
AT Studio Tamaasha, Andheri West
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