Gender Role In Dance Like A Man By Mahesh Dattani

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.In early rigid societies ‘gender role’ was labeled as masculine and feminine. However today the traditional notions about gender roles are undergoing transformation; changing roles in the social and economical spheres had led to the change in the gender roles as well.
Mahesh Dattani in the play “Dance Like a Man” portrays the patriarchal society of the 1970’s. It focuses on three generations –Amritlal Parekh ,Jairaj, his son, his wife Ratna , their daughter Lata and future son in law Viswas. Throughout the play the past, the present and the future are seamlessly connected in one story spanning three generations and the struggles of each generation against the expected gender roles of society till the future generation experiences the freedom
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He attempts to draw many of his characters from real life situations and they are remarkably realistic. Deepthi Agarwal speaks of the troubled relationships in the Mahesh Dattani’s play Dance like a Man. In her book The Plays of Mahesh Dattani, she says:
“A powerful drama directly hits out at torn relationships in a pseudo-sophisticated world……the plays tells the tale of human hearts, trapped in conflicting situations” (137)
The play “Dance like a Man” focuses on three generations –Amritlal Parekh ,Jairaj, his son, his wife Ratna , their daughter Lata and future son in law Viswas. It centers on an individual plight where a dying form of art serves as a backdrop. Amritlal is the autocratic father, a freedom fighter and reformist. He stands as a metaphor of the unwritten rules of authority that many come to accept as part of the Indian joint family. He is a representative of the society in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Though liberal in thoughts he curtails the freedom of his son who wants to become a Bharatanatayam dancer. Jairaj seems to be have a passion for dance which is accepted by the society of his
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He had converted the library into a practice hall for Jairaj. But he did not realize that his interest would turn into an obsession. He fails to find a suitable reason for Jairaj’s choice of career. He blames himself and his upbringing. Taking advantage of his financial dependency on him, the father altogether stops his son’s dancing classes. He tries to win his daughter- in- law Ratna over to his side and in the bargain wants her to discourage her husband from his passion.
Another aspect that Mahesh Dattani highlights in the play is the rigid notion regarding marriage of the Indian society in the 1930’s. Though Amritlal is considered to be a revolutionary reformer he feels Ratna is not a suitable wife for Jiaraj . He blames Ratna for influencing his son.
“Amritlal : Is it because of your wife? Is she forcing you to dance? She may be influencing you. May be it’s not you. That’s one thing I regret, consenting to your marriage.” (422)
Typical of the times, we see Amritlal fixed in the notions of gender roles acceptable in society. He feels that dance was the art of the devdasi’s and no one else should practice it. He is against his daughter in law pursuing dance and he tries to put an end to the practice session with the guruji . He does not want to be associated with the people related to dance- the musician as well as the guruji. He tells his

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