Thoughts on Grease Yaka from across the Palk Strait
Dilshan Boange's review of Grease Yaka made interesting reading for
multiple reasons. At one level, it touches upon the phenomenon of urban
legends and how these take hold of public imagination.
It reminded me of the Monkey Man episode in the early 2000s in Delhi
where a monkey man - supposedly with red, glowing eyes and dark fur -
caused panic for weeks.
A scene from the play
Reports of people being attacked and injured by this monster - who
according to some eyewitnesses was about four feet tall while others
claimed was five feet plus - created a mass hysteria of sorts. Sightings
were reported every day. But just as mysteriously as the monkey man had
appeared, it vanished never to be heard of again.
So what triggered this "hysteria"? While psychologists have
attributed such instances to fear, depression and public hysteria, what
is indeed amazing is how one man's fears feeds into and exacerbates
those of thousands of others.
How easily private fears cross into the public space.
At another level, Grease Yaka explores how cultural motifs play a
role in the propagation of these legends and their undying resonance
through the generations. How lines between good and evil, conscious and
subconscious, reason and superstition begin to blur!
The changing meanings of yaksha and yakshini and their significance
in both India and Sri Lankan is just one example.
Grease Yaka seems to take the discourse to yet another level by
exploring how these elements are channellised by powerful people as a
means to their political ends.
Therein, lies the power of plays...giving rise to many more questions
that arise from the blend of all these different strains of reality,
fantasy, mythology and private lives. Fascinating review and kudos to
Dilshan Boange for such a detailed and insightful study of cultural
phenomena that resonates through the subcontinent.
Adite Banerjie, the writer of this 'reader response', is a New Delhi
based writer with over 20 years experience as a journalist working for
publications such as The Economic Times and Business Today. She is also
a romance novelist published by Harlequin Mills & Boon.