Monday, March 23, 2009


The Arts Council of Sri Lanka commissioned Sumathy Sivamohan to produce a workshop play with the upcountry Tamil community. This was part of the attempt of the Arts Council under the guidance of Dr. Dharmasena Pathiraja (Chair) and Mr. Tilak Jayaratne (Chair, Drama Panel) to nurture theatre among marginalized communities and also use it as a means of empowerment. Sivamohan worked with a group of young people hailing from the estates around Hatton, a cultural and political centre for the upcountry Tamil community. Through a series of workshops, the group as a whole developed a script called Payanangal –Journeys. The play was formulated and directed by Sivamohan Sumathy. Music was composed and organized by V. Sathananthan of Bellwood, College, Kandy.

The play is a journey that a group of women and men, hailing from the plantation community, make in our exploration of history, identity, gender and class. In this journey, they tell a story of the community in a dramatic form, through fragments of narrative about political and personal realities. They draw upon different popular forms of the people, and from the genres of literature to capture their condition of life today. They also rework a song composed by the celebrated pre-independence trade union and feminist activist, Meenakshi Amma, as a central motif to comment on modern times. Payanangal is a work in process. In this journey they express issues that are closest to their hearts, their selves. Payanangal is an ongoing journey that they, as a collective, have undertaken.

First Performed at Sri Pada College of Education, Pattana, on the 18th of July, 2007
It was also specially selected for performance as an exhibition piece at the Short Drama Festival of the Arts Council where it went on the boards on the 13th of December, 2007.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Veteran writer Balamanoharan has come out with another first of its kind piece of writing of him recently. His Bleeding Hearts is a first ever novel based on the settings of Vanni, written in English.

More than three decades ago, when Balamanoharan wrote Nilakki’li, it was widely appreciated for the ‘scent of earth’ it was emanating and was acclaimed as the first Tamil novel coming from Vanni.

Three decades of his maturity and the impact of changes that have taken place during this time in his beloved homeland are obviously perceivable in his latest work.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Paari Padukalam- Death of Pari:A Thamil Play by Pralayan

About the Department
Sri Sankaradass Swamigal School of Performing Arts started functioning from the academic year 1988-89 and has been renamed as School of Performing Arts during the year 2007. The school has come to existence on December 2007 in view of conducting interdisciplinary teaching and research activities in the Performing Arts.

The Department of Performing Arts started functioning from the academic year 1988-89 and it offers M.A., M.Phil, Ph.D. in Drama and Theatre Arts.The prime motive of the Deprtment of the Performing Arts is not only producing Masters in the field of Performing Arts but also imparting knowledge to its students in terms of equipping themselves to get into the avenues of job opportunities in the field of Mass Communications, Song and Drama Division, Film, Radio-T.V. Networks and Doordharshan Channels, Schools, Colleges and the Department of National and International Universities, Above all, the Department of Performing Arts aims to act as a catalyst in the minds of students to understand, ‘The Art of Living’.

The Department of Performing Arts produced number of plays as part of Students Participation in the play production. The major plyas are Aurangazeb, Kaala Yenthirangal, Veedu, Koyil, Valli Thirumanam, Appavum Pillayum, Mundravathu Vila Elumpum Vizhudukalattra Alamaramum, Uliyin Osai, Marana Illa Vasical and Thanimayil Shakespeare.

The play ‘Paari Padukalam’ is the recent play production of the Department of Performing Arts directed by Shri Pralayan, Chennai Kalaikuzhu, Chennai.About the DirectorPralayan is well known theatre personality as a playwright and director in Tamilnadu. Influenced by the modern theatre movement initiated throughout india in terms of searching the roots of Indian theatre.

Pralayan has started his theatre activities as Artistic Director of Chennai Kalaikuzhu and has directed morethan thirty plays in the format of open-air production. Among the plays staged under his direction ‘Maanagar’ ‘Pavun Kunju’ and ‘Payanam’ are well known in Tamil Theatre space.

Since 1998, he has involved in Theatre-in-educationprogrammes, Besides his open-air productions, Pralayan has also taken interest in proscenium stage productions‘Satyagraham’ Tamil version of Habib Tanvir’s ‘Mote Ram ka Satyagrah’, Puratchi Kavi (Revolutionary Poet) by Bharatidasan and ‘Upa Kathai’ are worthy to be mentioned here for exploring the power of proscenium stage.

About the play
The play “Paari Padukalam” tries to traces out the social history of the ancient Tamils through the ‘Sangam Literature’. Ancient Tamil Kings, Chera, Chola, Pandiya were never united under a single vision but to kill the chieftain of Parambu Hills, Paari. This play tries to understand the existing pauses and silences in the tragic episode of ancient Tamil history. Thus ‘Paari Padukalam’ makes an attempt to conceptualize the past to the present.

Aravaan: A Thamil Play by Prasad


On his last night alive Aravaan reminisces. He recollects that, though born to Arjuna, he had been in consequential in the scheme of things until the Pandavas required a propitious person endowed with all the noble qualities for human sacrifice before the war. Now, he was being ennobled so that they could quench the thirsty earth with his blood to favour his royal father, the exploiter of his tribe! Maybe they would have spilt his blood anyway, ever if he had not offered himself for sacrifice out of his misplaced filial sentiments. He reflects on how King Dridarashtra, having blood folded himself, had found the easy way out by not looking at such injustices around him and escaped into introspection. This seemed to be reflected by the world around him as well. Blind to the horrors of war. Aravan decides to blindfold himself. Blind to the world, he is able to face himself more clearly. His needs appeal to him with urgency. He decides to satisfy all his sensorial and carnal cravings to the fullest before he eclipses. Once intoxicated, he is aware of the presence of a sensuous woman : he immediately proceeds to claim her amorously.

Suddenly, he is confused. Is this man or woman? Phantom or real? That smell of milk...........krishna?

The day rises. Aravaan realises that the blood thirsty earth that awaits him is not different from himself. He is of the same matter. He shouts to the world that he, Aravaan the virtuous brave that they were awaiting was ready and eager to be sacrificed. He is led away and sacrificed.

The beheaded Aravaan returns, head in hand. The No-Longer-Aravaan is bemissed at the spectacle of the joyously advancing army, off to behead more youth like him. He hears lamentations Not his mother who weeps silently but another who wails loudly. Who is it? Krishna? The one who bewitchingly turned woman to receive the brunt of his lust? For what? To give him the kiss of death! Will he not be left in peace in his death!

He was not born to be sacrificed... he-wants to live again, somewhere, even as a blade of grass on a hill. Will someone not put his head and body together? How long would you sacrifice hapless people like him, in order to exploit thier lands and forests?

“For how long can our corpses bodies appease your hunger for land?”


Aravaan is a character drawn from the story of The Mahabharatha. Born to Arjuna through an illicit relationship with a tribal girl Chitrankadhai, Aravaan is not acknowledged by the Pandavaas until the eve of the great war. Krishna advises them that a human sacrifice of one of noble descent and with all the virtues would alone assure them of success in the battle field! Everyone is in a quandary on who the scapegoat should be, until Krishna himself remembers Arjuna’s boy ignored off spring. Arjuna himself goes back to the forest to bring Aravaan ‘home’. Krishna then convinces Aravaan of the importance of the sacrifice. Eager to please his new found father Aravaan enthusiastically volunteers. His happy family asks him what favour he would like in return and Aravaan asks to be married. Not being able to find a bride for one about to be sacrificed, it is once again upto Krishna to turn himself into a woman and be Aravaan’s wife for a night. At dawn, the next day Arvaan is sacrificed.

In Na. Muthuswamy’s play “Padukalam”, is a moving same, Aravaan, returns as a ghost to talk about the injustices done to him. He demands a full night koothu in his honour, as an important contributor to the story. This play is in response to that demand.

Performer’s Note :

I’m presenting the mythical character of Aravaan as an icon for the exploited. This systematically marginalised character from the Mahabharatha is the quintessential victim, a pawn in the hands of power mongers, manipulating him to the extent of volunteering his life for a cause which does not really concern him.

In this play we see him reflect on his folly, youth coming to its senses. And just as Aravaan, we realise that looking past the ‘Sacredness’ of the Mahabharatha and Krishna, an analyses can illuminate us on the machinations of power; And how little things have changed as suppressed youth continue to volunteer as fodder around the world...

S. Ramakrishnan

S. Ramakrishnan is a well known writer in Tamil serious Literature. Presently he is publishing a magazine “Atcharam” a magazine for Art & Literature. He is the direct example of a writer who works for enriching tradition and contemporary writing in a mystic and with vast imagination. He had created the script for “Aravaan”. He also contributed his work for the flourish of South Indian Film Industry.

K.S. Karuna Prasad
Director - Performer

K.S. Karuna Prasad is one of the Trained actor of Koothu-p-pattarai. He joined Koothu-p-pattarai in 1985 while doing his Bachelor’s degree and acted many plays of Koothu-p-pattarai which was participated in Southzone Theatre Festival. He was one of the Repertory actor of Koothu-p-pattarai. He was receipient of the prestigeous “Erode Book Fair Award” and “Wisdom International Award” for his contribution to Tamil Theatre. He is trained in Koothu and folk dance forms. Karuna Prasad also worked with many of the Tamil Theatre Groups. He had done Music for Magic Lantern’s Plays Don Juan, Ponniyin Selvan, Pattam, Minnal Ravi. He regularly Acts with many individuals and conducts workshops for school children. He also directs children plays.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

About Parabaas Translation

Parabaas, Inc. was formed in 1997 to promote Bengali language, literature, and culture on the internet. We have been bringing to our readers Bengali contemporary writing in this emerging medium through our webzine Parabaas. We have published several e-novels and e-plays since then. In February 2001, we started a new section to carry English translations of work by major Bengali authors.

A part of our mission is to develop and standardize cyber-friendly word-processing tools in Bengali and make them freely available to our readers. This effort has naturally expanded itself to include other Indic languages in our scope.

In time we hope to publish translations of Bengali literature into other Indian languages as well as disntictively "Indian" (a term fraught with ambiguities, we know!) writing in English. The actual direction, or the pace of these developments will depend largely on the magnitude of participation from our readers and contributors.

If You Must Ask Me : A Poem from Bangladesh

If You Must Ask Me

Joy Goswami
Translated from Bangla by Skye Lavin and Joy Goswami

If you ask me, 'what have you done with your life'
then I must tell you...

One day I vomited, one day I swallowed
One day I touched the water and it changed into milk
One day by looking at me a heavenly girl lost herself
One day without telling me both my hands flew away in the wind

One day I hid in a drunkard's stomach as a strong drink
the next day I came out, in another way entirely, as the tears of a beautiful woman
and at once the muslin handkerchief sucked me in with sympathy

One day I beat her, one day I kicked her
One day I stuck out my tongue
One day I lathered myself with soap
One day I lathered her
If you don't believe me, go and ask your wife

One day I managed only caa, caa
One day I took on the scarecrow
One day I adopted a pig, Oh Yes one day a goat
One day I played a flute, Oh Yes one day for Radha I played
One day I pressed my face into a woman's lap,
while the rest of me fell to someone else
If you don't believe me, go and ask she-who-is-my-fate

One day my body was a bag full of green leaves
and my fingers were long white lillies
and my hair was a cumulus cloud---
when the wind comes, it will float anywhere
One day I was the grass in field after field,
but only because you will come and pour your body out onto it
yes, my eyes exceed all commands
they roam from river to river to river

On the river Ganges I lay my body down, like a small bridge
so people can go from this side to that, no passports
from that side to this came your own mother once,
a teenager in her first sari
While writing the Constitution of the nation, I got a bit sleepy
in that moment someone came and scribbled on it: oh, oh I want to make her

One day running out in the main street naked
I submitted this year's budget

One day I opened my mouth and one day
I shut it

In the yawn of my Yes-saying mouth there is no food
and in my No-saying mouth there is no food.

One day blood dripped down my cheeks
I looked for my torn-out eyes in the water and the mud of a field

One day a knife stabbed me in the back
I collapsed into the yard before the hut, coughing blood
the village crowd came to see me with lanterns held up

One day body ablaze, I leapt from a burning hut
and fell into a pond

The next morning I was surprised to see it in the newspapers
I got so excited tears fell, I called people, sweat dripped from our foreheads
I kept the assembled sweat in my file cabinet

If anybody comes to do research in the future
they can set fire to the documents and burn many people

Kill! Kill! Kill!

Adopt two different techniques for men and women

Kill! Kill! Kill!

Since the heart has come from the mouth
since the baby has come out of the womb

Kill! Kill! Kill!

In this place we must use screams
that break the skull

In this place we must use such intercourse
half the body will be dumped in the earth after
and turned into coal

In this place we must spit
so that when it comes from the mouth, it explodes like stars

In this place we must use a duet,
a song in which the hero and heroine will fly in the sky
and the hands, legs, head, and genitals will rip away--- all from a song

every limb will cry out for every other limb
each limb left will caress what is left

at last they will fail to know what to do next
and they will return to their previous form

Here you must use a kiss that kills---
one that seizes and then lets live, so the lips smash each other trying to unite

the lips of abandoned lovers will open to the sky for an eternal kiss

If you ask me today, 'why have you written lies in hundreds of lines?'
If you ask, 'why didn't you learn the duty of a poet
... still why didn't you learn?'

I will lecture about a particle
I will explain that I was born from a grain of sand
I was born by salt
and the anonymous drop of rain that watched me from a leaf on a high branch of a tree
and then jumped onto me
I know nothing more than this

If you ask me today, in what phalanx,
in what black hole, in what hidden drains of the nation
I wander, in what armoury do I drink a cup of tea,
against what billboard do I smash my head,
over what big bridge or dam,
what deer came and nuzzled my foot,
what swan prayed to me to come and twist her neck

Over the cloud, under the cloud
like thousands and thousands of drops of rain
I jumped & danced in the fields and the cities

If you ask me today, how many buds
do you have on your plant?

Are you shundillo or bhardwaj?
durlov or koiborto?
Are you mango tree or banana?
Do you wear shoes or sandals?
Are you Muslim or Pyre-attendant?
Are you a worshipped stone or are you alive?

Then I will tell you the story of that night,
that night on the calm grass field when a long minaret spun
and burst from the ground
mud and stones
shot out and vanished into the black heaven

From the long fire tail in the sky
I jumped arms spread into the revolving foam womb of time

Now I am in the last ocean after all the distances
and the iron wheel revolves under the water
Now I am at the very beginning of the ocean
and the iron wheel revolves under the water
What is bodied and what is bodiless? All are awakening
to the robust life through me

I am moving through time now
I stroke in two directions, past and future
I am a monstrous fish lashing my tail
the water-pillar in the ocean rises and falls
the fountain of water springs from my nose
it creates a burning cluster of cloud

A rope is fastened to the sword on my nose
the other end of the rope goes on and on
to where no earth, no solar system exists
to where the dark ether wave swells with stars and cosmic dusts
there from one galaxy-island to another
a life-craft of flame floats on

that's all, that's all
I have nothing more to say to you


Published August 25, 2005


The original poem [aaj jadi aamaake jiGYes karo*] is the title poem of a collection first published in 1991 by Ananda Publishers, Kolkata.

Translated by the author and Skye Lavin. Skye Lavin is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and is currently based in Madison, Wisconsin.(more).

Illustrated by Nilanjana Basu. Nilanjana is mechanical engineer by profession and currently lives in San Francisco Bay area. She is one of the regular illustrators for Parabaas.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Samudra Gupta, an eminent Bengali Poet

Samudra Gupta, an eminent Bengali poet, was born Abdul Mannan on June 23, 1946, in Hashil village in Sirajganj District. Mannan adopted the pseudonym of Samudra Gupta during the 1960s and was widely recognized by his pen name during his life and career. He took part in the start of the uprising against Pakistan beginning in 1969 and fought in the Bangladesh Liberation War.

Gupta was originally a journalist by profession. He worked as different daily and weekly newspapers throughout Bangladesh. Gupta also served as the general secretary of the country's National Poetry Council.

He wrote thirteen books of poetry during his career, as well as one work of fiction and an additionally book of poetry as a collaboration with another writer.

Samudra Gupta died of gallbladder cancer on July 19, 2008, at the Narayana Hridayalaya Hospital in Bangalore, India. He had been hospitalized in India for treatment since July 3, 2008.

Gupta, who was 62 when he died, was survived by his wife and two daughters. He was buried at Mirpur Martyred Intellectuals' Graveyard.

Note by: Anis, Bangladesh.

Anisuzzaman is Supernumerary Professor of Bengali, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Anisuzzaman is Supernumerary Professor of Bengali, University of Dhaka, Born in 1917 in Calcutta.

Anisuzzaman took his B.A. Honours (1956), M.A. (1957) and Ph. D. (1962) degrees in Bengali from the University of Dhaka. He was a Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago (1964-55), a Commonwealth Academic staff Fellow at the University of London, and was associated with research projects of the United Nations University (1987-93). Having taught at the Universities of Dhaka (1950-69) and Chittagong (1969-85), he has returned to the former in 1985 as a Professor of Bengali.

He has authored many books in Bengali and English including Muslim Manas O Bangla Sahitya (Dhaka 1964), Swaruper Sandhane (Dhaka 1975), Purono Bangla Gadya (Dhaka 1984), Factory correspondence and other Bengali documents in the India Office Library and Records (London 1981), Creativity, Reality and Identity (Dhaka 1993), Cultural Pluralism (Calcutta 1993) and Identity, Religion and Recent history (Calcutta 1995).

He has been a recipient of the Bangla Academy award for research (1970) and the Ekushe Padak, an award given by the state, for his contribution to education (1983). He was also the president of Bangla Academy. He was a member of the Planning Commission to the Government of Bangladesh during the liberation war.

Note by: Anis, Bangladesh.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Badurudin Omar: Great Philosopher of Bangladesh

Badruddin Umar, internationally reputed Bengali philosopher, writer and progressive poltician, has an MA in Philosophy from Dhaka University and an Honors degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) from Oxford University, He taught philosophy at Dhaka University, and Political Science at Rajshahi University where he was Chairman of the Department of Political Science.

The author became a full-time political activist and writer in 1969 and worked amongst the workers and peasants of Bangladesh. He was for many years President of the Bangladesh Lekhok Shibir (writer's association). He has also lectured at the South Asian Studies Departments at Heidlberg University, Berlin University, and Cambridge University and has presented the prestigious Raja Ram Mohan Roy Memorial Lecture at Calcutta University.

Note by: Anis, Bangladesh.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

'Mallikai' : Great Leap of a Little Magazine in Thamil

Dominic Jeeva, the renowned short story writer and the editor of 'Mallikai' a little magazine in Thamil is marching towards it's 50Th birthday which is a rare feature in the world of little magazine in the world literature.

The untiring literary personality Mr Dominic Jeeva is an iconic figure in the field of art and literature of Thamils of Sri Lanka.

The journey of 'Mallikai' towards its fifty years is not a simple and sweet walk. It's a fire walk!

It's a journey of struggles on caste, class and enormously on ethnic issue.

There are few art and literary personalities keep the morale of the Sri Lankan Thamil society high even in waves of wars and disasters and Mr Dominic Jeeva is definitely one of them.

Soon after every disastrous wars he bicycles with bunch of 'Mallikai'in his cloth bag and distribute it to readers is a real morale booster for demoralised minds suffered in the war.

'Mallikai' is not only a literary magazine, but also a symbol of Thamil psyche!

'Mallikai' is the gate way of socially conscious serious art and literature.

Note by: S.Jeyasankar
Photo courtesy: Mallikai Jeeva

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kancha Ilaiah:Why he is not a Hindu?

Kancha Ilaiah is the chairman of the political science department at Osmania University, a social activist and author.

He is an activist in the Dalit-Bahujan (Scheduled and Backwards Castes) movement.

He has authored several books and publishes articles regularly in national news papers and magazines. His book published in 1996, "Why I am not a Hindu - A critique of Hindutva from a Dalit-Bahujan perspective" became the best seller.

The above book is very influential in the Thamil art,literary and intellectual activists circles. Little magazines in Thamil had brought out most of his articles and interviews into Thamil readership.

He also authored God As Political Philosopher: Budha's challenge to Brahminism, A Hollow Shell, The State and Repressive Culture, Manatatwam (in Telugu), and Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism.

Dr. Ilaiah in his efforts to internationalize the Dalit issues for the first time.

Note and Photo by: S.Jeyasankar