PORTRAYAL OF MODERN SENSATIONAL JOURNALISM IN VIJAY TENDULKAR`S PLAY ` KAMALA`
DR. RAM SHARMA
SENIOR LECTURER IN ENGLISH
J.V.P.G COLLEGE, BARAUT, BAGHPAT [U.P.]
Vijay Tendulkar mocks at the modern concept of journalism which focuses on sensationalism and to create sensations , the journalists can go to any extent whether it is subjugation of women or violation of human rights.All these things are raised by the noted dramatist in his thought provoking play Kamala.
This play opens in an enclosed space –the living space of a Delhi based journalist who has brought a tribal woman from a flesh market in Luhardaga .In real life , an Indian Express journalist ,Ashwini Sarin bought an adivasi woman for Rs 2300 from a village auction and exposed the kind of flesh trade which goes on all the time and is a sad comment on `civilized society` with its profanity of modernity.
In the play Jaisingh Jadav purchases Kamala from the flesh market and treats her as an object that can buy him a promotion in his job and a reputation in his professional life.Jadav never stops to think what will happen to Kamala after this exposure.This play raises the question on modern sensational journalism .While he is a commited journalist, striving to expose the inhuman practice of women being bought at auctions and then sold into prostitution ., he also knows that the story will make his career.
Jaisingh`s enthusiasm is directed towards sheer sensationalism .He creates sensationalism at the expense of Kamala .He sells awoman –thar poor and illiterate woman- to the press men for their amusement .He makes her a laughing stock .He exposes her to their vulgar inquiries and finally without any compassion for Kamala , Jaisingh Jadav discards Kamala in an orphanage for women.In this way the responsibility of Jaisingh Jadav comes to an end after she ceases to be an advantage to him.
He duped Kamala who had come prepared to his bonded keep with all the associated feeling of sex , motherhood and living.``2
About this modern sensational journalism Kakasaheb tells Sarita, the wife of Jaisingh Jadav.
KAKASAHEB—I`m honoured.Who asks after me now ? I`m back number –a remnant of times past. A dead journalist – who`s just about saying alive ! Now in the day of your husbands type of journalism .The High –Speed type ! Something catches fire – and there he runs! There is a riot somewhere else –and off he flies .If there`s an atrocity in the heavens or a ministry topples in the sky –why , there he is ! Eye-witness report ! Being on the spot –that`s what important ! Never mind what you write
SARITA. That`s not so ,Kakasaheb .He never writes anything without first hand knowledge.
KAKASAHEB-That`s why there`s such a correspondence later. `This is a mistake` -or `That`s a lie`- `It just didn`t happen that way-
SARITA. Of couse, there will always be some people who say that kind of thing!
KAKASAHEB-Who`s got the time to get first hand knowledge?If you hesitate , you`re are lost.High-speed journalism ! Let`s see who runs fatest-if it comes to that, write any nonsense!
SARITA[Mischievously].Just you wait.I`ll tell my husband.
KAKASAHEB. Tell him.Go on , tell him! How will he find the time of reply to it?Even if he`s here when you start telling him –by the time you finish he`ll be in Biharsharif –or perched on Laldenga`s roof –gathering eyewitness evidence! And what will be observing ?Murder, bloodshed, rape, atrocity, arson!
For the sake of his objective.Jai Singh becomes selfish and savage.He doesn`t allow Kamala , the woman he bought in the flesh market , to take bath before the press conference whereas he enjoys the luxury of bath after the tedious journey.He gives explanation to his wife Sarita.
------And people of her kind don`t have a bath for days on end.It`s a famine area .Where they could they get the water? And you`ll be surprised –she`ll feel dirtier after her bath.Please don`t do any such thing concerning her without asking me first. For God`s sake.`
He deceives Kamala by saying that there will be a feast in her honour at the conference.He takes her in the same torn sari that she has been wearing . He doesn`t give her an inkling of his objective in buying her and lets her believe that he has purchased her like the others at the flesh market and dream of a handsome husband , children and a palace like house.
KAMALA[Not emerging from the veil] It`s nice. Such a big house! Like a royal palace.
JAISINGH[Winking at Sarita] Would you like to stay here always, Kamala?
KAMALA[Nodding her head delightedly] Yes!
JAISINGH.You won`t have to do any work here. Just eat and relax .
KAMALA. As you say , master. But i`d like some little work or the other.
JAISINGH[ To Sarita] Did you hear?She says,she`ll do some little work or the other.These downtrodden people are happy at the slightest excuse .Toil and labour take getting used to .Luxury doesn`t [ To Kamala] Go inside , Kamala.
When Sarita asks him whether he has thought of Kamala`s feeling , he tries to convince her that Kamala will find the home a luxury after the way she use to. She will be given two full meals a day without doing any work and she will be under the protection of the home.
SARITA. But for that, did you have to buy a woman?
JAISINGH I needed evidence, didn`t I ? Do you know , I turned the world upside down to find this bazaar. I was the first journalist to reach it ! [ His face , his voice , are happy] Today I`m going to throw the whole caboodle in the government`s lap- along with the evidence .Just watch ! Let them deny it this time. I`ve caught them properly –the bastards ! [ Recollecting himself] . But keep this absolutely secret for the time being .No one at all must find out .If there`s even a slight leak, all my work is wasted.
SARITA[ Noticing his warning glance] Yes
JAISINGH. I`m not sure about you.[ Realizing the distrust he is showing , he mends it with] I don`t mean you`ll do anything on purpose--- There`s a press conference to be held by my paper this evening. Once I`ve announced everything in that , there`s no problem . Then you can talk about it.
SARITA[ Emboldened] Suppose someone finds out .What`ll happen?
JAISINGH. It`ll be end. Our entire plan will be flat. My editor and I have put this thing together with great care.Even the proprietor of the paper has no idea. There is a way of these things. You have to build them up that way. What`s so unusual about the Luhardaga flesh market ?Women are sold in many places like that , all over the country. How do you think all the red-light districts could operate-without that? That`s not the point .The point is how we project Luhardaga- the technique of it. The art lies in presenting the case –not in the case itself! Keep watching .See how we`ll blast out this shameful affair .There will be high drama at today`s press conference .It`ll create an uproar ! [ He is pacing about excitedly]
This sensationalist journalist who tries to bring about a revolution in the outlook of the society through his articles is utterly selfish , cruel and insensitive to the feelings.Sarita , Jaisingh`s wife , has a home and family .But she realizes that she is also a valueless object like Kamala , who doesn`t have any right over what she thinks to be hers. She cannot decide how to manage her affair in her house.Kamal`s innocent talks shakes her from within and makes her realize that she is another Kamala living in Jaisingh`s house .Kamala says to Sarita,
`` Memsahib, if you won`t misunderstand ,I`ll tell you .The master bought you, he bought me too.He spent a lot of money on the two of us—So , memsahib , both of us must stay here together like sisters.We`ll keep the master happy ---You are an educated woman .You keep the accounts and run the house ---And we must have land of our own ---Fifteen days of the month ,you sleep with the master, the other fifteen , I`ll sleep with him`` [p-35]
Jaisingh Jadhav exploits not only Kamala but also his wife , Sarita. Arundhati Banerjee rightly comments,
``Like Kamala, Sarita is also an object in Jadhav`s life , an object that provides physical enjoyment , social companionship and domestic comfort``3
This is drudgery to which Jaisingh Jadhav , the saviour of Adivasi woman , exploits his wife.Jaisingh has never thought of her as a person with a head .Sarita sums up the aggressive nature of Jaisingh;
--- a man who in the year 1982 still keeps a slave , right here in Delhi , Jaisingh Jadhav .I`m going to say, this man`s a great advocate of freedom .And he brings home a slave and exploits her. He doesn`t consider a slave a human being- just a useful object.One can use and throw away .He gets people to call him a sworn enemy and tyranny. But he tyrannizes his own slave as much as he likes , and doesn`t think of anything of it –nothing at all. Listen to the story of how he bought the slave he got free-not judt free-the slave`s father shelled out of money –a big sum—[p-46]
Kamala is totally ignorant of sensational journalism and Jaisingh`s purpose.He lets her imagine that Sarita is also his slave and wounds her deepest feelings.In her earnestness to do justice to Jaisingh she promises her that she will have as many children as Sarita likes and do all the hardwork of the house.
P.D Dubbe observes,
`` Sarita is a symbol of slavery in family system `4 She slaves for her family without asking for anything in return .She continues,
` They[ women] must only slave away .Dance to their master`s whim .Laugh , when he says laugh.Cry , when he says , cry .When he says pick up the phone , they must pick it up.When he says, come to a party , they must go` [ p-46]
He becomes surprised when she doesn`t like to accompany him to a party given in his honour.
JAISINGH. .You don`t want to come? Why ?
SARITA. That`s my will.
JAISINGH. [Rather surprised] Your will?
SARITA . Aren`t I allowed to have a will of my own?
JAISINGH[Sarcastically] Never noticed any sign of it before—
Jaisingh uses both the women , Kamala and Sarita as pawns in his game of chess.
SARITA. Why ? Why can`t men limp behind ? Why aren`t women ever the masters ? Why can`t a woman at least ask to live her life? [p-47]
In this play Kakasaheb provides the true ideals of journalism and in contrast to these Jadav`s concept of newspaper reporting is shown in a critical light.
KAKASAHEB. Why does he have to? My dear , it`s not the facts of an occurrence that are important .But the topic is .Discuss that .Comment on it. Suggest a way to stop it-suggest that. After all any murder, rape or arson is like any other.What difference can there be ? Why waste our country`s time , and ours, writing accounts of them?What sort of journalism is it that smacks its lips as it writes blood-thirsty descriptions instead of commentary ? Its business isn`t news –it is bloodshed! [ p-6]
In the end we can say Jaisingh uses Kamala and Sarita as a tool to get success in his sensational journalism and he has not to take anything with their salvation or rights.By raising this modern sensational journalism the playwright has raised questions regarding the value system of a modern success oriented generation who are ready to sacrifice human values even in the name of humanity itself and how in a success –oriented male-dominated society , women are the victims or stepping stones in men`s achievements .On receiving the Katha Chudamani award Vijay Tendulkar confessed `` I have been writing about life around me. When I feel the need to say or do something , I do it .Otherwise I will not be able to sleep `  He was well aware of the bleak future ahead.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
All text citation are from Vijay Tendulkar , Five Plays ,trans .Priya Adarkar ,Bombay, Oxford University Press, 1992.
P.D.Dubbe, `` The Theme of Flesh Trade in Vijay Tendulkar`s `Kamala ` The Commonwealth Review[ ISCS], Vol 5 , No 1, 1993-94, p-44
Arundhati Baneerjee, `Introduction ` Five Plays , Vijay Tendulkar [Bombay, O.U.P, 1992], P-17
P.D. Dubbe, `The Theme of Flesh Trade in Vijay Tendulkar`s Kamala ` The Commonwealth Review[ ISCS] Vol 5, No1 , 1993-94, p-46