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Home Indian History & Culture Sujoy Ghosh’s Ahalya: An attempt at deconstructing the power structure

Sujoy Ghosh’s Ahalya: An attempt at deconstructing the power structure

By Sreyashi Mazumdar

Reviving the vestiges of Hindu mythology, Sujoy Ghosh’s attempt at recreating the titillation and a subversive idea of patriarchy has kicked off a furor across the board.

Picture credit: indiatoday.in

Ranging from applauds to criticism, literary ostracization to video leaks, the 14 minutes saga, Ahalya, has left people stupefied at the maverick’s masterpiece. If mulled over considerably, Ghosh’s new take at the forlorn mythological character has rendered a new method of presenting myth with a post-modernistic approach.

The original story kicked off with Brahma’s daughter Ahalya marrying Gautama. Being irked at the duo’s union, Indra donned Gautama’s look and bewitched the charismatic and coveted Ahalya. Gautama on running into Ahalya and Indra’s conjugal moves punished both of them. Ahalya was turned into a stone whereas Indra was cursed with a thousand female genitals hanging from his body.

 

Ghosh’s masterwork despite being a revamped version brings forth a modernized take on the same. The story kicks off with inspector Indra knocking at the door. The tale in its very first scene unravels the mythological characters, with a tinge of stealth and spookiness encapsulating it. Ahalya, in the mythological version, was portrayed as coy and overmodest; however, Ghosh’s Ahalya was charismatic and bold feigning to be demure.

Contrary to the original version, it was the stealthy lass who entices Indra, while Gautam Sadhu (Gautama)- Ahalya’s grey-haired husband- witnesses the furtive advances of her unbridled spouse and Inspector Indra’s lechery gradually creeping in. However, cracking upon the stereotype Ghosh’s Ahalya gets salvaged despite her adultery and Indra gets fixated and reduced to a doll.

From Ramayan to Mahabharat, every Indian mythological cock-a-hoop had a tinge of patriarchy engraved in it. Be it Sita being asked not to transgress the Lakshman rekha or Draupadi being at receiving end, begging and wailing for help, while Pandavas stood helplessly at the behest of their adversaries’ advances.

Picture credit: missmalini.com
Picture credit: missmalini.com

Every Indian mythological tell-tale sets forth a tone of a strong patriarchal order where in the woman is nothing less than a medium to corroborate the strength and virility of the male characters. Lord Rama wouldn’t have been charismatic and enchanting enough had not Sita’s vehement cries for help, after being abducted by Ravana, juddered Rama and forced him to put his prowess at work.

Similarly, despite Ahalya being the prime character of the mythological tale, was reduced to a mere tool, a bait with Gautama’s and Indra’s prowess nibbling on it. Indra in a bid to get back at Gautama used Ahalya as a pawn. Despite, Ahalya’s unadulterated intentions and being beguiled in a trap, she was censured and chastised.

Ghosh’s version of Ahalya has touched upon issues like- deconstructed patriarchy, chauvinistic normativity, female virility and sexuality respectively. The furtive advances of Ahalya ravel out a new era wherein female adultery isn’t ostracized and castigated.

Further, his attempt at deconstructing the generalized power order, has set forth a stage to present mythological narratives with a post-modernistic flavour; for instance, may be a refurbished Ramayan might roll out a plot wherein Rama has to give an Agnipariksha for accusing Sita of adultery, or where Pandavas’ virility get tested to which Draupadi stands helplessly.

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