Is Mahasweta Devi’s ‘Draupadi’ Anti-National? Listen for Yourself
(The Department of English and Foreign Languages at the Central University of Haryana is facing backlash after producing a dramatic adaptation of Mahasweta Devi’s short story “Draupadi.” The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), along with some ex servicemen and locals have said that the play is ‘anti-national.’ Here is an ‘offending’ excerpt from the short story originally published on 29 July 2016. )
“Name Dopdi Mejhen, age twenty-seven, husband Dulna Majhi (deceased), domicile Cherakhan, Bankrajharh, information whether dead or alive and/or assistance in arrest, one hundred rupees...”
(Draupadi, Mahasweta Devi, Translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak)
Unembellished and brutally honest, Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi tells the story of Dopdi Mejhen, a tribal woman ‘encountered’ by state Special Forces. The narrative doesn’t mince words: Dopdi’s rape and torture is portrayed in stark, naked detail.
However, Draupadi is not the story of a woman cowed down or destroyed by state violence; it is the celebration of her indomitable spirit. Battered but unbroken, Dopdi is a symbol of resistance to gender, class and caste oppression.
(Featuring the voices of Urmi Bhattacheryya and Isha Purkayastha.
Audio edited by Purnendu Pritam.)