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The Title of Vijay Tendulkar's Silence the Court Is in Session

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SILENCE THE COURT IS IN SESSION

1) TITLE-

The original title of the play is SHANTATA! COURT CHALU AHE. The words of the title are very common in law courts where the honourable judges pronounce the words to bring back order and decorum if the parties concerned or the mob present in the court become unruly or create chaos and commotion. In other words the very words SILENCE THE COURT IS IN SESSION indicate the absolute authority of the judge in the court room to decide upon the manners of others. The judge has also the final authority to pronounce contempt of court in case of breach of discipline. In a civilized society the court system is in vogue for the sake of justice. The judiciary is considered to be one of the four main pillars of democracy.

In the present play Vijay Tendulkar chooses a term of judicial register as the title of his play to make a powerful comment on a society with a heavy patriarchal bias that makes justice impossible and that converts the august judicial system into an instrument of oppression of women and the vulnerable. Ideally justice can be provided only if the judge and the judicial system are objectively detached. But the same objective detachment can become the face of a very repressive and dehumanized system if the persons involved in the process of justice are themselves devoid of human value and compassion.

In the present play we find how Benare becomes the victim of sadism of his male counterparts. The audience is made to witness a mere enactment of what is a rehearsal of sorts of a mock-trial to be staged later in the day. But what begins as a harmless game begins to assume a grim aspect before long.

At first all the characters vie to be the accused in the mock-trial. Then, on Sukhatme's suggestion they decide to make Benare the accused. It is notable that Benare is allotted the role of accused in her absence. As soon as Benare enters the room singing, and wiping her face on the towel, she is caught unaware by Ponkshe,"Miss Leela Benare , you have been arrested on suspicion of a crime of an extremely grave nature, and brought as a prisoner before the bar of this court." Kashikar, assuming the role of the judge accuses Benare of the crime of infanticide. The way Benare is made the accused without her consent shows the functioning of the patriarchal system. It is as if a woman is perpetually on the dock, under the judicious gaze of a patriarchal society.

The accusations against Benare are based partly on conjecture, partly on hearsay. It is suspected that she is a coquette and that she has an illicit love affair with Prof. Damle, whose son she is bearing. Even Samante who is innocent and ignorant reads out a passage from a novel and the details seem to fit Benare's case. What begins as a game evolves into a hunt. Benare is the quarry and the group, accuser and judge rolled into one. Kashikar, the judge, comes down to the witness-box to participate vigorously in this

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