Being Lost and Becoming: Exploring the Performance of Pain and Empathy in Maya Rao's Khol Do (Take It Off)
This article critically engages with Maya K Rao's Khol Do (Take It Off), as a dance-theatre performance of pain and empathy through which the notion of being and becoming is contested. This nonverbal performance, revolving around one of the stories written by Saadat Hasan Manto that is based on the atrocities occurred during the India-Pakistan partition, is about a man in search of her daughter, only to find her as a victim of gang-rape. The article examines Rao's conscious choice of portraying the role of the father to construct the performance of pain/empathy, through her use of embodied dance/theatre practice of kathakali. Building on the theoretical frameworks of Marla Carlson on empathy and Phillip Zarrilli on being-doing, the article attempts to understand how it displaces the empathy derived out of violated body of a woman and connects to contemporary debates on sexual violence by reinterpreting and inverting the kathakali codes.