Three days before in Odisha, a Polish drama Sonka was screened as the part of the ongoing 18th Bharat Rang Mahotsav. The 1hr50 min duration play by the director Agnieszka korytkowska-Mazur is a war romance story that take places on the Polish-Belarusean borderland. Sonka tells the story of the chance meeting between the successful hip theatrical director with an old Belarusian lady called Sońka and ends up listening to her story of war, a lost love and consequences of foolishly falling in love with an SS officer.As the story progresses the director quickly transforms the old lady’s history into a play with his own version of events
The drama was critically acclaimed around the world mainly for two reasons- a still crude history of eastern Europe and a different take on the ‘Theater of memory’. Sonka recalls the world of Patriarchy, feudalism, misogyny and total chaotic social orders. But, here in India the Drama is in the spotlight due to a 10 second long nudity scene !!!
There is a scene in the drama which depicts a brutal rape scene faced by young Sonia for loving a Nazi soldier. The brutality of the countryside towards the woman is symbolically shown through a magical realism scene featuring dog barks and wild sounds. At one point,the protagonist was left without any clothes for 10 seconds above her waist.
The Odisha Cultural minister said the play is against Indian culture and called for a report from NSD regarding it.Odisha Nari Sachetana Manch locked the main gate of the auditorium, and tore and burnt posters of the play. The NSD authorities later said that it was a wardrobe malfunction
While staged in Delhi, the play had certain changes. Before showing that scene Igor,the hippie director, took an anticipatory bail from the audience to not to be offended with the particular scene and presented the censored version suitable for the ‘Sanskari audience’.
While asked about the particular incident in ‘Meet the Director’, Agnieszka stood away from the controversy by remaining silent.There was clear sign of ‘pressure’ on her face while addressing the media. she didn’t spoke to the media because of the undeclared media blackout by the organizers.
“For the effectiveness of the play, some times nudity scenes have to be be shown. Its a director’s decision which needs to be matter whether or not to show nudity in his/her production not the government’s or other administrations “, said Carlo, a drama enthusiast from Mexico.
An anonymous student from the NSD put out serious criticism against the administration. He said that the campus had turned apolitical , so students can’t effectively question/counter such actions by the administration. He also alleged that earlier they were granted the permission by the director to discuss this issue in front of the students but under the pressure from the administration, the director and the crew had backed out.
“The prime institute which need to guard the artistic expression itself is now resorting to the safe zone by lame excuses such as “wardrobe malfunction”. In various artistic spaces ranging from performance to cinema, artist’s freedom of expression is nabbed in the name of safeguarding Bhartiya Sanskriti ” he adds.