ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Vijay Tendulkar’s Kanyadaan

Inter-Caste Marriage and the Liberal Imagination

This paper discusses the depiction of inter-caste marriage in Vijay Tendulkar's controversial play Kanyadaan (1983), which has enjoyed a recent revival both in India and abroad. Responses to the play have been split largely along caste lines, with upper-caste audiences and critics regarding it as an expose of liberal reformism, and dalits either ignoring it or regarding its depiction of dalit masculinity as offensive. But few have commented on how the play pits its version of female agency against a particular vision of dalit masculinity. This paper sets the play in the context of Tendulkar's particular engagement with Dalit Panther literature, but argues that it also speaks to ongoing debates on sexual violence and on the literary representation of transgressive passion. It shows how Kanyadaan both unravels and embodies the most troubled aspects of the relationship between caste and gender in postcolonial India.

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