Vinay Kumar’s play, ‘Bhoomi’ questions the domination of women

Vinay Kumar, from Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Art Research, addresses some tough questions about rape and gender violence in his play, Bhoomi.

Bhoomi features a play-within-a-play where the director and the actor find themselves engaging with questions about gender, violence, retribution and resolution.

The play uses mythology to say that women have been brutalised for the longest time. Set in two different time frames, the play opens with a director of a theatre company being disoriented.

“I wanted to talk about these issues, not from a bystander’s perspective, but from the point of view of someone who has experienced it,” says Vinay over the phone from Puducherry. “I believe when a traumatic event happens to us, we find solutions.”

The 52-year-old says he has tried to explore the idea of a victim’s rehabilitation and trauma as opposed to what society demands: punishing the perpetrator. “This is a schism between who owns the issue, and who does not. Revenge does not heal the victim. It is important that we talk about the stigma and how a victim questions the issue and tries to deal with it.”

The play has mythological references from Valmiki’s Ramayana, where King Dhandaka forces himself on Araja, a sage’s daughter without her consent. This is then connected to contemporary times, where the characters on stage grapple with similar issues.

Nimmy Rathel, 39, who plays Araja in the play-within-the-play and Ambika, in Bhoomi, says, “There are a plethora of resolutions, but we have explored this from just one perspective. We intend to start a conversation about these issues.”

“We have used stories from our mythology because even then the era was replete with these very issues. We have juxtaposed the story of Dhandaka with today’s reality. This is not a new problem, but has been there for ages,” shares Vinay.

The play is an adaptation of Sara Joseph’s Malayalam play Bhoomirakshasam. “The issue is subjective and we need different voices, opinions, and conversations regarding these issues,” believes Vinay.

Bhoomi will be staged at Natana Theatre, Mysuru on December 4 and 5, at 6.30 pm, and at Rangashankara in Bengaluru on December 11 and 12 at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm.

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