Identity Crisis in Hayavadana

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Abstract Girish Karnad’s use of folk forms is neither casual nor incidental. In his Hayavadana, he has made innovative experiment to offer a new direction to modern theatre. The dramatist has proved that the traditional forms need not be treated as precious artifacts, but can be adapted to treat modern themes suitable for the urban audience. This paper is an attempt to portray how Karnad used the ancient story to explore the theme of human identity in a world of tangled relationships and a struggle for perfection.

Girish Karnad, in Hayavadana, which won the Natya Sangh Best Play Award in 1971, gives expression to Indian
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Karnad’s Padmini is not allowed to attain the greatness of Kalidasa’s Shakuntala who embodies the ideals of not only a woman’s respect for self esteem but who also in her endurance posits the great illustration of the maternity principle. Hayavadana is resonant with multilayered social messages and also tempts us to see it as a volatile autonomous being. Most critics have tried to come to terms with the problem of ‘incompleteness’ that the conflicting situation and also the personalities in the play depict. Padmini’s free floating volitional and volatile consciousness demands a perfect man for her. Hayavadana nonetheless makes us encounter in Padmini a ‘Spirited’ ‘embodied’ mind and more significantly illumines the notions of female subjectivity as embodied in her. Padmini is a transgressive erotic agency and a woman who desires to create a space beyond the pre-fabricated identity.

In Act II of Hayavadana, the questions raised ‘To whom Padmini belongs’ could have been solved. Padmini’s arrival drives in men the knowledge of the agony of love. The mixed up heads create multiple problems since Padmini as a lawfully wedded wife must go to Devadatta because as a mother the paternity of her child is dependent on whom she chooses as a husband. The days of bliss and happiness with Kapila have to reach a state of denouement.

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