Indian Drama

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What is a theme of Dattani's play "Tara"?

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One major theme in Mahesh Dattani's play Tara is that of guilt. In this play, two conjoined twins are separated so that the male twin, Chandan, can live a normal life, but the female twin, Tara, is severely disadvantaged. As a result, Tara's life is difficult and unpleasant from the beginning, and eventually, complications cause her death.

Although the male twin, Chandan, obviously had no part in the decisions made by the twins' doctor and mother, he feels an enormous amount of guilt for Tara's struggles and for her death. This may be partially "survivor's guilt," or the feeling that he got away with no repercussions, while his sister suffered and died.

Another character that feels guilt is Bharati, the mother of the twins. She knowingly determined the results of the surgery in accordance with cultural preferences that put male life on a higher plane than female life. She has to live knowing that she has indirectly caused the death of her daughter for the sake of her son.

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One of the most important themes in the play is that of gender roles in modern society in Gujarati and Indian life. 

The play explores female infanticide and its effect on the remaining family members.  In a society that is supposed to be advanced and respect women, we still find it common to kill baby girls.

Females have subservient roles throughout.  For example, girls and women are expected to listen to men.  Some girls accept this as reality and consider it not just part of life, but in their best interest.  Chandan accepts paternal (male) guidance, but Tara does not.

CHANDAN: If daddy wants to stop her from saying something to us, maybe it’s not good for us to hear it.

TARA: And who decides what’s good for us to hear and what isn’t? (54)

Tara represents a role of women in a changing society, one that accepts women more as equal.  She wants to have a say, and be considered just as important as men.  She wants to make her own decisions.

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