Vijay Tendulkar was a famous Indian playwright of contemporary times, during the third phase of threatre. He could be called a complete playwright in tradition of Shakespeare because how he reflected on the society in his plays and the way her brought the characters to life.
Not many playwrights can claim such an achievement. He took on themes that were not spoken on in those times, various taboo themes of sexuality, violence within the family and outside, treatment of women in the Indian society.
One such play he wrote that brought him to spotlight was ‘Silence! The Court Is In Session’. The play takes on the plight of a single Indian woman, the stigma attached to her in the society at that times and how she held more accountable for wanting to live her life her way, unlike a man ever would be. A play within a play, it centers around the mock trial aimed at showing the Samant what a court proceeding looks like and prosecuted the protagonist, Ms. Benare, for a fake crime that was turned into a contempt against her and her personal life and she felt as if she was on a real trial for her “crime” – Being an unwed mother.
Ms. Leela Benare, the protagonist, is written as a modern young woman in the middle class society today she is cheerful, lively and seeks to live life on her own terms. She is a dedicated and devoted teacher and believes that one should live their life to the fullest. He character suffers in the play because the way she lived her life defied the established social norms and her private life was dissected for the evil pleasure of the males of the group and to satisfy the jealous of the only woman present there apart from Ms. Benare.
The highlighted character represents a modern day free-minded women who are out there in the field doing what they love and living the life on their own terms. The times have changed since the play was first written but the plight of such women still exists and is in effect more than we would like it to be. A woman, even today is questioned for the clothes she wear, working late night, hanging out with male friends and having fun and living their life. The stigma still continues that a woman needs to be reserved, should marry as soon as possible and live her life as far as the permission of her husband allows. And this is the top most layer of it all. The things turn worse if a woman is romantically involved with a man she is not married. She becomes an object of scrutiny for the entire society n the pall-bearers of the “purity of society” treat them as an anomaly and possible threat to the “sancity” of the society. For some reason, the affair of a married man is not as big an issue for the people as a romantic involvement of a woman is. A man can follow his desires, even sexual, run away from his responsibility of upholding the sanctity of society and still live his life in peace. The private life of a man never comes in question when his professional competency is concerned unless it’s something as grave as committing a crime, which still form a crucial part for professional area, the background of an employee. A woman on the other hand, needs to maintain a “society-approved” speckless record of personal life to prove her professional competency.
All this gets far much worse if you are an unmarried single woman who’s pregnant or a divorcee. Male divorcees are still treated with more pity than a female divorcee. In the case of the play, how Miss Benare was treated for having a flirtatious nature and living a life full of fun and enthusiasm won’t come as big surprise for the readers. Also, how Prof. Damle was not at all held at contempt, neither was her maternal uncle, for getting involved with her. But Ms. Benare alone faced the blunt of it all, because she’s a woman who wanted nothing more than love from a man and was betrayed. In the game, skeletons tumbled out of the closet and her suicidal tendencies as well as seducing every male member in the troupe and proposal of marriage to everyone is revealed. The institution of a inquiry in her school for her moral conduct which will dismiss her from service (her sole means of sustenance) was also ordered. The hypocrite society calls motherhood divine, higher than heaven and infanticide a great sin will not take any kind of motherhood other than the what they suppose is correct, which is, a married woman. Other elements such as inter-caste marriage is not included in the play but that as well decides the level of divinity of one’s mother hood
She does not want to abandon his child as she has enjoyed some blissful moment. She talks about her genuine love for her maternal uncle and Prof. Damle and how she left her both the time. Even in the current time, a woman will be treated with quite a bit of harsh contempt for her romantic and , especially, sexual involvement with any person she is not married to. Whereas men and their love for only the flesh of a person, their lust, will always be justified or overlooked, or both. Society might have changed, women a more free than they ever were before, but shaking off of a long set stigma and the utter lack of respect for the personal life of a woman will take a long long time.