Performing the Goddess: The Chapal Bhaduri Story
Chapal Bhaduri alias Chapal Rani or Queen Chapal, leading lady of Bengal’s traditional folk travelling theatre-in-the-round, the Jatra, spent his life playing women. Until history changed tradition and women began to play female roles themselves. Out of work, ageing, he turned to a new livelihood: that of playing Sitala, the dreaded goddess of pox and disease, in dramatized performances of the goddess’s sacred saga.
This intimate video biography brings you face to face with a unique individual, reminiscing about the world of Jatra, discussing what it meant to be a woman night after night, talking for the first time of the woman inside his male body, of troubled sexuality, of a long domestic partnership with his older lover, of the essential loneliness of living as a human being on the edges of conventional society – and showing how he metamorphoses into the goddess in order to perform her story. In the process we get a fascinating view of the professional Jatra, an integral part of the people’s culture in Bengal.
In-depth interviews, extracts from milestone fragments of Jatra plays, the makeup process that metamorphoses a man into a goddess, and documentation of the play on the goddess, provide you with a rare entry into an unusual world, and a close look at Chapal Bhaduri’s life and work.
Colour. 44minutes. VHS PAL
research and script:
VHS: Rs 650. £ 25. $ 35. NTSC: $ 50