Thursday, June 7, 2012

Art and the Mind

Kartikey Sehgal

After reading Rabindranath Tagore’s play titled Malini, a group of art enthusiasts wonder that among the characters - each aiming for the righteous - who is wrong and who is not. We have come not to a conclusion that can put us at ease and make us believe that - the riddle is solved.

The riddle is self-created. The play, seemingly, is not about the right or wrong, the moral or immoral.
The riddle was posted as a query to examine human relations and the enigma of morality and duty. If a friend is misinformed and acts according to his current ideals, without meaning to harm you, but only because he feels that he righteous, then would you hold his actions wrong?

This is the story of the play, taken from this website.

This is a famous drama composed by Rabindranath Tagore. This play takes place n a Hindu kingdom. Malini, the king’s daughter has been taught by Buddhist monks. She wants to leave the palace and help to solve the problems outside. The Brahmins are worried and are threatening to rebel against the king. They are demanding that Malini is sent away from the kingdom. Malini leaves the palace. Many Brahmins think she is a goddess and begins to follow her but kemankar leaves the king’s garden. Malini is tired and confused. He has found that is too difficult to solve the problems outside the palace. Supriya says he has betrayed his friend, Kemankar, by telling the king about the rebellion. Kemankar is arrested and the king offers Supriya the chance to marry Malini. Supriya says that all he wants for the king not to kill Kemankar. Kemankar arrives in chains. He is proud of what he has done. He asks to speak to Supriya they argue. They then agree to die together. Because that is the only way to find out who is right. Kemankar kills Supriya with his chains. The king asks for his sword to kill Kemankar but Malini says “Fathe, Forgive Kemankar”.

The play led us to discuss the nature of woman as a decision-maker, and the role of the king as an administrator - is he unconcerned about morality but makes decision out of ruthlessness, or is he fickle, or is he, as one reader remarked, the bearer of others’ actions?

When she is accepted as a Goddess, Malini wonders the next day if she is worth the glory. Is she not showing weakness, and what of her grandiose proclamations the day before - these were the queries, formed out of the need to understand human beings, and not just limit the self to the story of the play.

This discussion, of course, will eventually lead to more thoughts on human behaviour, which is a good phenomenon only if the participant has the capacity to ponder and assimilate, else it can be painful.

The purpose of art is to engage our minds in a world beyond the performance; to connect to the setting, the words, the people - the external world, whether this external worldit be related to us or it be of imagination. The purpose of art is certainly not this alone. But this seems a good purpose in any case.

Is art not a tool for introspection. To look away, you look within, and to look within, you look at the painting, the music, the actors, who make you look away; remind you of things seen and unseen.

Art, hence, differs from entertainment. Entertainment, is, but a part of art.

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