Name: Dance Like a Man
Author: Mahesh Dattani
Pages: 75 pages
Publishing Details: 1st January 2006 by Penguin Books
Summary: Jairaj Parekh and his wife Ratna, aging Bharatnatyam dancers, are engaged in finding a substitute mridangam player to accompany their daughter Lata at her performance at a high-profile dance festival. Lata, in the meantime, nervously awaits the meeting between her parents and Viswas, the young man she wishes to marry. When the four meet, and in the conversations and discussions that follow, the fissures in the relationship between Jairaj and Ratna begin to explode into high-strung battles which lead back to their own youth and the tragedy that lies at the heart of their discord. The younger couple have their own issues to contend with: the obvious mismatch between the two sets of parents, the arguments over Lata’s career as a dancer after marriage and most unsettling of all, Lata’s attempt to balance her parents’ ambition with her own needs and desires. A brilliant study of human relationships and weaknesses framed by the age-old battle between tradition and youthful rebellion, Dance Like a Man has been hailed as one of the best works of the dramatic imagination in recent times.
Review: This play may seem very drab in the beginning but there are gems of conflict, repression, dedication, feminism, patriarchy, the love for art, prostitution, politics and much more underlying it.
The characters have different voices and opinions. They view the events unfolding in their own perspective.
Ratna, the mother has been through much grief in the past. But what stays prominent is the jealousy she harbors towards the success of her only daughter, wishing fruitlessly that she had the fame that her daughter was getting.
She not only loses something very important to her blinded by the need for fame, she also feels the same pull now. Its difficult being a mother as well as trying to make a name for yourself in that year in India. Even today, its something that not many achieve. Feminism creeps into the story without making an entrance.
Jairaj, the father has lost his will and desire to dance after the fateful events. Even so, unlike Ratna he is proud of his daughter and all that she has achieved. His relationship with his own father has molded him into the ever-supporting father and even though he hates his old man, he can’t help but remember him.
Lata, the daughter is walking down the path that her parents once set on, and then laid out for her to go on. She’s a strong independent woman who does nor back down from her opinions even if her fiance or anyone else for that matter objects to it.
Viswas played a small role. So no thoughts for him.
Overall, a great play.