Magazine 2015
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Sharmila Jajodia  
This paper is directed to probe the psycho-social hypocrisy through Vijay Tendulkar’s selected plays-  
”Silence! The Court Is in Session” and “Kamala” as the basic human nature, the social attitude and perception  
do not undergo much change even after too much social development and awareness in terms of  
liberalisation, globalisation, spread of mass education and attempts for gender equality due to the prominent  
psychological barrier - resistance to change. This paper seeks to analyse how the society in the two plays  
reacts to certain social situations in which women are targeted. These targeted women are not always  
illiterate, poor or downtrodden but highly educated, brave and financially strong women too are not  
spared. The various entities of society- family, school, judiciary and media too show indifferent attitude and  
not only males but the females also become enemy and tyrant to these female victims. In both the plays, the  
society considers woman as a puppet to serve its selfish motives and exposes its own double standard and  
basic hypocrisy on which it is founded.  
Key Words : Change, Hypocrisy, Psychological, Social, Resistance  
This paper is an attempt to show how Vijay Tendulkar, a multifaceted genius, winner of several national  
and international awards and honours, has depicted the plight of women in the male dominated urban  
middle class society. His prolific versatility sharpened by his experiences as a journalist and seasoned by  
his keen observation probes the basic hypocrisy deep rooted in our Indian society.  
This paper seeks to analyse how the society in the two plays Silence! The Court Is in Session and Kamala  
observes and understands women, concretizing the strongly held beliefs into a cluster of values and  
bundle of taboos placing women in a disadvantaged position. These biased views about women- the  
female’ and the ‘feminine’ - have not allowed women to lead a free life authentically.  
Junita Williams also points out that “Man has always felt the need to explain and to codify woman, to  
come to terms with her presence on earth, and to accommodate her within his rational system.”(Mittapalli,  
In both the dramas, Tendulkar though not a self acknowledged feminist, has portrayed that men are  
selfish, hypocritical, brutal and ambitious while women are understanding, compassionate and efficient.  
These women pit themselves against the man made rules and double standards prevalent in the society,  
however hard the society tries to treat them as a puppet to serve its selfish motives.  
In Kamala, the central character Jaisingh Jadhav is a self-seeking journalist. This so-called the great  
advocate of freedom and gender justice commits a crime intentionally by buying a woman, Kamala, from  
the flesh market in an auction. He treats her as an object, presents her as a show piece in a surprise press  
conference to gain popularity and promotion in his professional life and also to prove that such things  
still happen in modern democratic India. When his wife Sarita comes to know this truth, she is stunned.  
She asks him why he only needed to buy a woman. Jaisingh tells her although police know this fact but  
they need evidence to admit it. By presenting her at the conference, actually he wants to create an  
uproar and high drama and blast out this shameful affair but he does not tell these facts to his wife, her  
uncle Kakasaheb and his own friend Jain till the conference is reported in the news papers. When Jaisingh  
and Jain enjoy discussing the happenings at the press conference, Sarita and Kakasaheb realise that  
they had some fun at poor Kamala’s expense. Both friends describe the conference as ‘tamasha’ and  
drama’ and also relish the obscene questions asked by the fellow journalists. Thus Kamala is made  
laughing stock but Jaisingh doesn’t mind it at all.  
The next day when police want to contact Jaisingh, he understands that they want custody of Kamala  
and therefore does not attend the phone calls made by the police department and decides to keep  
Kamala in a woman’s home or an orphanage. Sarita protests this move of her huband but he wants to  
save himself from being arrested and considers this as the only way out. Their servant Kamalabai approves  
it but Sarita considers it a deceiving act and opposes it.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Then Jaisingh retaliates, “It’s I who takes decision in this house, and no one else. Do you understand? “  
42) and orders the woman Kamala to accompany him. He orders his wife too to attend, reply and note  
down the phone calls as usual. Kamala feels she is being dragged away while Sarita stands like a statue  
on watching all this. Their servant Kamalabai considers that the woman Kamala was a bad sort. Kakasaheb  
tells Sarita that Jadhav’s reasons to take Kamala away from home are shallow ones and “Kamala is just  
a pawn in his game of chess”. (43) Sarita bursts out saying, “Not just Kamala, Kakasaheb. Not just  
Kamala, Kakasaheb. Me too . . . Me too.” (43) She realises that she herself is an object in Jadhav’s life  
that provides him physical enjoyment, social companionship and domestic comfort. She also feels that  
her husband is selfish and hypocrite and her existence does not have any significance for him. Jadhav  
does not tell her about his whereabouts whenever he goes out of Delhi for official work.  
His friend Jain’s comments also support Sarita’s realization when he addresses Sarita while taking leave.  
Hi, Bhabhiji, . . . this warrior against exploitation in the country is exploiting you. He’s made a drudge  
out of a horse-riding independent girl from a princely home. Hai, Hai [theatrically to Jaisingh] Shame on  
you! Hero of anti-exploitation campaigns makes slave of wife. Bye, lovely bonded labour.”(17)  
Not only this Jadhav also dictates Sarita to take his permission before doing anything for Kamala and  
wants to take Kamala to the press conference in the worn out sari only. When Sarita rebels saying that  
after all she is a woman; he raises his voice to snub Sarita, “I know, I know! you don’t have to tell me,  
understand? I have a very good idea of all that. I want her to look just as she is at the press conference.  
It is very important.” (22) He also gets angry when his wife asks about Kamala’s whereabouts after she  
leaves their home.  
Then the conversation between Sarita and Kakasaheb discloses how Sarita feels that Jaisingh is a slave-  
driver. She tells that she will also hold a press conference to tell the young journalists that Jadhav keeps  
slaves and exploits them. “ . . . The other slave he got free- not just free- the slave’s father shelled out the  
money- a big sum. Ask him what he did with it.” (46) She also tells Kakasaheb, on being questioned why  
she thought like that on that particular day. “. . . . I was unconscious even when I was awake. Kamala  
woke me up. With a shock, Kamala showed me everything . . . clearly I saw that the man I thought my  
partner was the master of a slave. . . . Dance to their master’s whim. Laugh, when he says laugh. Cry,  
when he says cry .....”(46) When Sarita asserts to rebel the slavery in their relations, Kakasaheb advises  
her. “Look Sarita, Jaisingh is no different from other men. He is not unusual. You are wrong to think that  
he is a bad man.”( 46) The same Kakasaheb has criticised Jaisingh earlier the way he handles journalism  
and has expressed his concerns for Sarita’s safety. He later on tells Sarita that the answers for all these  
questions is -”That’s why he is a man. And that’s why there is manhood in the world.” (47) He also tells  
Sarita that he also used to treat her aunt the same way as Jaisingh does to Sarita. He advises her to go  
behind her master, her husband like that only and emphasizes it as her duty. He further states that “It may  
be unpleasant, but it’s true. If the world is to go on, marriage must go on. And it will only go on like this.”  
47) When Sarita stresses that men and women are equal and so woman should be given the right to live  
her life as the man does because a woman can do everything a man can, Kakasaheb replies- “But that  
isn’t manhood.”(47) The same Sarita provides emotional and moral support to Jaisingh when at the  
close of the play he is treacherously deprived of his job. Thus Jadhav symbolises the modern day  
individuals who pursue their goals unquestioningly with a single minded perception and proposition.  
They are ready to sacrifice human values in the name of humanity itself.  
In Silence! The Court is in Session Leela Benare, the central character is a sprightly rebellious and assertive  
heroine. She is a school teacher, possesses a natural lust for life and ignores social norms and dictates.  
She is different from the other members of the theatre group. So she is easily isolated and made the  
victim of a cruel game executed by her cunning co-actors. She is compelled to play the role of an  
accused as time is hanging heavy on their hands. They also want to make one new co-actor- Samant  
understand how the court proceedings take place. They also consider if a woman is an accused, the  
mock play will be more interesting and exciting one. It is quite clear when Sukhatme states, “But when  
there’s a woman in the dock, the case does have a different complexion” (73) and he is supported by  
Karnik, Ponkshe, Rokde, Mr. and Mrs. Kashikar. Mr. Kashikar desires the charge to be socially significant.  
So Benare is accused of the crime of infanticide under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. During the  
course of this so-called mock play which is set in the backdrop of the mock trial, her private life is  
publicly exposed, much to the malicious glee of her male tormenters including Mrs. Kashikar. This mock  
trial i.e. the play-within-the play appears an illusion in the beginning but assumes the garb of reality as it  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
becomes a very serious affair and a real trial for Benare. At the same time it gives sadistic pleasure to the  
hypocrite group excluding Samant, the innocent villager.  
During this mock trial, Ponkshe admits that Benare runs after man too much. Further Karnik, the next  
witness is persuaded to confess the fact that Rokde has seen Benare in a compromising situation.  
Rokde tells Sukhatme that he saw Benare in professor Damle’s hostel room. Samant watches the mock  
proceedings out of sheer enthusiasm intently as he is to play the role of fourth witness. But when he is  
called to depose, he says that what is true for the trial is quite false really. Ironically, whatever he reads  
from a cheap novel to answer Sukhatme’s (the lawyer’s) questions proves quite fit/ fits in with what Benare  
has undergone recently in professor Damle’s room on that fateful night. The learned professor refuses to  
accept her despite knowing that he has been responsible for her (Benare) carrying a baby out of wedlock  
as he fears of losing his own reputation. A tense and stunned Benare who has remained mute till then,  
suddenly asks Samant to stop saying anything. “That’s enough. . . . it’s all a lie ! A complete lie!” (93) She  
turns around and accuses all of them saying, “You’ve all deliberately ganged up on me ! You’ve plotted  
against me.” (93) Mr. Kashikar, the judge in the mock-trial but a social worker in real life, thinks that  
Benare should not be less than thirty four, when she is asked her age and she refuses to answer. He  
considers that promiscuity is a bane in the society and society should “revive the old age custom of child  
marriage . . . All this promiscuity will come to a full stop.” (98) He blames social reformers - Agarkar and  
Keshav Karve for ruining the society.  
Benare chooses not to answer any question why she remained unmarried to such a mature age. Later  
Mrs. Kashikar deposes before the court, “That . . . when you get everything without marrying. They just  
want comfort. They could not care less about responsibility! . . . It’s the sly new fashion of women earning  
that makes everything go wrong. That’s how promiscuity has spread through our society.” (99-100) and  
Benare’s case is a solid proof of that as she behaves somewhat differently although she is one of us. Mrs.  
Kashikar as a society has strong objections to Benare’s attitude as a free unmarried woman.  
She further states, “Look how loudly she laughs! How she sings, dances, cracks jokes! And wandering  
alone with how many men, day in and day out!” (100) Rokde who gives evidence also has something  
bad to tell about Benare. In Sukhatme’s words, “ . . . the accused committed an outrage in a lonely spot  
on a boy like Rokde, much younger than her-almost like her younger brother . . .”(103) She threatened  
him with dire consequences if the matter comes to light and thus “she tried to cover up her sinful deed.”  
103) Then Ponkshe also makes shocking revelations as a witness by telling how she (Benare) has asked  
him to marry her but at the same time she also confirms in advance that he has not been fixed up  
somewhere. Ponkshe tells her that girls are silly and frivolous; so he wants to have a mature partner and  
is not interested in marrying unless he finds one to his taste. Then Benare gives her own opinion about  
maturity and even tells him that she has a promising bride in mind and the girl has “just gone through a  
shattering heartbreak and the fruit of her love . . . is in her womb. (107) Indirectly it becomes plain to  
Ponkshe that Benare is pregnant and she wants Ponkshe to marry her. The “scoundral responsible” (108)  
for this tragic situation is Prof. Damle.  
The anti-climax comes when she tells Ponkshe that she was telling a joke. Karnik also tells about her  
sinful past, her immoral relationships with her own maternal uncle at the age of fifteen and her attempted  
suicide because of the disappointment in love. Mr. Kashikar too violates the code of conduct and dignity  
of court and narrates how his visits to Nanasaheb’s house confirm that the teacher who has become  
mother before marriage is Benare only and she has been terminated from job. He considers such girls as  
a sinful canker on the body of society. Thus evidence after evidence is piled up against Benare to prove  
her guilty. But Damle, who has also his share of guilt in the situation, is not even held an accused at all  
and left scot-free.  
Then Sukhatme, as the counsel for prosecution shows his concerns for society by mentioning Benare’s  
conduct and mistake as “heinous blot” (114), “a very great sin”(107) and its fatal result contributing to  
flourishing immorality, destruction of society and culture completely. She should not be given any  
concession for being a woman, should be punished severely without showing any mercy. Even that will  
be a mild treatment keeping in mind the gravity of the sin. Later on he takes the role of the counsel for  
accused and pleads for mercy as she is a youth led astrayed and human being is prone to error.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Kashikar in his role as the ‘mock judge’ asks Benare if she wants to say anything in defence before the  
judgement is made. Later Benare stands up erect and says, “Yes, I have a lot to say.” (116) She recalls  
her past to reveal how she had been violated physically twice, at an immature age by her own maternal  
uncle and later on as a grown up woman by an intellectual. Benare, in that long monologue, accuses all  
men as ‘hypocrites’ whose only interest is in her body and not in her bleeding heart or agonised mind.  
Commenting on her co-actors she observes, “These are the mortal remains of some cultured man of the  
twentieth century. See their faces-how ferocious they look! Their lips are full of lovely worn out phrase!  
And their bellies are full of unsatisfied desires.”(117) Writhing in pain, she goes on to reveal that  
Professor Damle ‘the unusual intellect’ has exploited her hero-worship. “My intellectual god took the  
offering and went his way. He wasn’t a god. He was a man. For whom everything was of the body, for the  
body! That’s all! Again the body!” (118) Kashikar, the judge, tells her that she has tried to dynamite the  
social customs and sacredness of marriage and motherhood and hence deserves no mercy. Moreover,  
as a teacher she has set a very bad example when future of posterity has been entrusted to her. So the  
sentence meted out to her is that she must opt for infanticide. On hearing Kashikar’s cruel verdict, Benare  
writes and cries in intolerable pain, “No! no! no!- I won’t let you do it- I won’t let it happen-I won’t let it  
Thus the play scathingly satirises the moral code, conventions and hypocrisy of middle class patriarchal  
society. Tendulkar makes us realise that it is Benare’s fear of such code that compels her to crave for  
marriage and forces her to beg the inferior men around one after another to marry her in order to play the  
role of a ‘father’ to her child. But at the same time Tendulkar depicts Benare as a modern woman who is  
capable of protecting herself.  
As Dass observes, “Tendulkar does not let Benare kill herself or feel shy about the whole episode, but  
makes her fight till the end.”( Dodiya and Surendran, 2000, p. 89)  
Sarita is silenced by Jadhav, the way Mrs. Kashikar and Leela Benare are silenced by Mr. Kashikar and  
the society. ‘Jadhav’ in “Kamala” and ‘male members of the troupe’ in “Silence! . . .” never stop to think  
what will happen to Kamala and Benare respectively after the expose. Thus Vijay Tendulkar exposes the  
chauvinism intrinsic in the so-called modern and liberal minded Indian males. “Kamala” is also an indictment  
of the success oriented male-dominated society where women are often victims or stepping stones in  
men’s achievement. Kamala and Sarita are built of the same stuff as Mrs. Kashikar and Leela Benare.  
Though being educated Sarita and Benare are empowered in comparison to the uneducated Mrs. Kashikar  
and Kamala, yet they don’t have the spirits to revolt against their present conditions. Thus VIjay Tendulkar  
seems to be on the side of the feminists for he projects women as helpless victims of the conspiracy  
hatched by men.  
What George Herbert Mead once observed is quite justifiable: “The ‘self’ cannot be understood except in  
relation to the ‘other’. So unless men understand this concept ‘feminism’ there will be precious little  
purpose or outcome for the intellectual endeavour as we enter another new century.” (Sinha, 2006, p.83)  
To conclude, by these two plays Vijay Tendulkar tries to bring out the fact that it is essential for both the  
partners to understand the “otherness” of the other for the better survival.  
Dodiya, Jaidip Sinh K. and K.V.Surendran. eds. Indian English Drama: Critical Perspectives. Sarup &  
Sons. New Delhi. 2000. Print.  
Mittapalli, Rajeshwar. ed. The Atlantic Literary Review, Quarterly, Vol.2, No.1, Jan-March 2001. Print.  
Sinha, Ravi Nandan. ed. The Quest: A Journal of Indian Literature and Culture, Vol.20, No.2, December  
006. Print.  
Tendulkar, Vijay. Five Plays. Oxford University Press. New Delhi.1998. Print.  
Sharmila Jajodia, Assistant Professor, Dept.of English, Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College, Mumbai