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Silence!

The Court is in Session
The Trial between the humanists and the anti-humanists in Vijay Tendulkar's play
'Silence! The court is in Session'.

Vijay Tendulkar (1928-2008) emerged as a rebel against the established values of a
fundamently orthodox society with the production of Shantata! court chalu Ahe (Silence! The
court is in session) in 1967, he became the centre of controversy.

This drama presents a metaphorical trial between the humanists and the anti-humanists.
'Silence! The court is in Session' is in reality a mock trial of simple and straightforward
school teacher Miss Leela Benare. She is cross-examined in the court with full mockery. She
is charged with infanticide and having illicit relations with a married person Professor Damle
and in this way her private life is exposed. All the other characters like witnesses Mr. Gopal
Ponkshe. Mr. Karnik Rokde, Samant, counsel for the Defence and counsel for the crown Mr.
Sukhatme and judge, Mr. Kashikar and his wife Mrs. Kashikar all behave in a way of mockery.

Miss Leela Benare is summoned merely as a witness while Miss Benare remains the prime
accused as the mother of an illegitimate child and having illicit relations with so many persons.
As the trial go on all the witnesses and authorities become inimical towards Miss Leela Benare.
On the charge of unmarried motherhood and having illicit relations with so many persons, the
judge, Mr. Kashikar orders the school authorities to dismiss such an immoral woman. Miss
Leela Benare tried to defend herself through a long soliloquy. "The parrot to the sparrow said,
"Why, of why, are your eyes so red?" Oh, my dear friend, what shall I say/" Someone has
stolen my nest away. Sparrow, sparrow, poor little sparrow 'oh brother crow, oh, brother
crow. Were you there? Did you see it go?" No, I don't know I didn't see, what are you troubles
to do with me? O sparrow, sparrow, poor little sparrow."

The jury of the Sangeet Natak Akademi refused to accept "Silence! The court is in session" as
a play because they were stuffed with colonial hang ups and they considered themselves to
be consumers in the entertainment market. Maharjas promoting Indian art and culture in their
private dance, halls. Vijay Tendulkar, while refusing to conform to such norms of

The characters fight for authority and power and try to trap each other through a metaphorical mock-court.a silent. "The woman who is an accussed has made a heinous blot on the sacred brow of motherhood- which is purer than heaven itself. the youngest of the actors. The characters go back to a changed context and situation. arcane language. Sukhatme. Our head experiences in the mode of number. that this charge is important from the social point of view? The question of infanticide is one of great social significance. says. the limits of same experience. The play oscillates between theatricalization of private life and privatization of theatrical performance. Her statement in the last monologue also reminds one of Theodre Rozak's observation quoted by charles Frankel. Sukhatme. mechanical connection. when Leela Benare narrates her life in the school with children. We consider society's best interests in all we do. non serious activity. its sources and manifestation." Miss Benare. Balu Rokde. but she believes that truth and reality are achieved only when reality is approached in nakedness of mind. Tendulkar's this play is based on the theme of power. it says to an inner purposive rhythm--" (Frankel:70) Vijay Tendulkar again and again mentions society and social customs by his characters. stage into a school situation. the power. logic. Leela's position within the game of the mock-trial is not steady she oscillates between reality and illussion and the imaginative and the mundane. she transforms the empty scenic space of the proscenium. Mr. Sukhatme. Leela differs as to the best way to break loose from this enslavement to collective prejudice. the judge enquires Sukhatme. the heroime of the play. But peculiarly. Ponkshe. No joking! I must put aside the practice of court and give evidence. presumptuous head speaks one language our body another. "Rokde: (suddenly sitting down cross legged) Do tell it miss sit down. however great. Miss Benare has the charge of infanticide. Leela becomes the teacher and other performers become children: Benare: (suddenly expansive) shall I tell you a story? children be seated. Leela's acting changes the dialogic narration into live performance and with that the empty space transforms into a new mimetic space. Initially. While performing the role of a woman in the group. "Did you notice also. To Sukhatme Kashikar says "This case has great social significance. play that underscores the games operates more through the monologues rather than through the dialogues. There was once a wolf ---" (P9). that the law may . Leela's argument against body and its mechanical connections and her discourse of emotion saves her from dehumanization. any punishment. our body in the process of fluid process intuitive adaptition. For that. Sit down. "Our proud. imposes his own authorial power which is accepted by themoney magnets as a trivial. As the game of transformation begins the other performers voluenteer to participate in the process. That is why I deliberately picked it. Mr. Kashikar. she transcends the limitations of verbal reasoning and tries to spy into the masculine strategies." (P92) The public prosecutor Sukhatme clarifies that motherhood is sacred and a mother bears the responsibility of bearing her child unmindful of her own difficulties and Miss Benare has brought shame to the holy mothershood by her conduct. The charges against Leela Benare are levelled by evidences of reality that mark out the boundaries what might be called the collective mindscape." (P-10) In the court Miss Benare's crimes of infanticide and illegitimate motherhood is established by the prosecution as crimes against society.complacency. is a school teacher. She is totally devoted to her profession and her popularity has caused the envy of her colleagues at school and even the school management.

will be too mild by far. . this country and its culture will be totally destroyed. To conclude Vijay Tendulkar has presented the trial between the humanists and the anti- humanists in his play "Silence! The court is in session". Immorality will flourish. your sin must be expiated. Not only that Her conduct has blackened all social and moral values. No moments of your sin should remain for future generations. If such socially destructive tendencies are encourraged to flourish. morality.. Kashikar defends social customs while giving judgement on Miss Benare's case "Prisoner Miss Benare. which you have shown through your conduct is the morality you are planning to impart to the youth of tomorrow. "Neither you nor anyone else should ever do anything like this again. The crimes you have committed are most terrible. but buinging an illegetimate child is horrifying. our beautiful dream of a society. traditions and our religion. This court takes a serious view of your attempt to dynamite all this. Irresponsibility must be chaimed down. She tells the judge that life is a very dreadful thing and life must be hanged. Miss Benare is very frank in giving a fitting reply to the charges levelled against her in the court. But why? Why? Was I slack in my work? Ijust put my whole life into working with children. The judge expresses his views on motherhood thus. governed by tradition will crumble into dust. Vijay Tendulkar has developed the central character of Miss Benare through the contents of a beautiful poem by Mrs." (P-115) Sukhatme further clarifies his point "Infanticide is a dreadful act. pay the closest attention." (P-118). "Na jievan Jeevanmarhati 'Life is no worthy of life. "Motherhood must be sacred and pure. But the child in your womb shall be destroyed. Although Miss Leela Benare says that society has no right to interfere with her private right liberties but inspite of that she can not totally shy away from her responsibility. our eyes. society. The morality." (P-115)." (P-119). There is no forgiveness for them. Hold an enquiry against life. Sack it from its job. The accused is public enemy number one. there will no such thing as the institution of marriage. The character of the accused is appalling.." (P-119) The judge pronounce his final judgement thus. Therefore this court hereby sentences that you shall live. It is bankrupt of morality. If it is encouraged. Before. The judge Mr. It is through his characters that Vijay Tendulkar expresses his deep concern about motherhood.give her." (P-119). Shirish Pai.