According to the group members, the judges did not take offence to them using actual swear words, but found ‘bra’ and ‘panty’ obscene.
Judges at the Sahitya Kala Academy’s Mahavidhyalaya Theatre Festival were so stunned by the ‘obscene language’ used in a play performed by Kamala Nehru College’s theatre society, Lakshya, that they couldn’t even bring themselves to say the words used in the play as they informed the group of its disqualification.
According to a Facebook post by Monami Basu, “So traumatized were the organizers by the words that they choked on them and could not bring themselves to spell out those “appalling” “disgusting” words while telling us the reason for disqualification. When the students asked them, they ran away from them.”
So what could have possibly caused such an uproar?
“Isne meri bra utha ke unki balcony mein phenk di and uspe shayari bhi likh di” is the slanderous line from a play called ‘Shahira Ke Naam’ that is the culprit here. The play, which focuses on the lives of six girls living in a hostel has a scene during which the characters discuss the need to label their undergarments to prevent them from getting mixed up with others’. But the use of ‘bra’ and ‘panty’ was so offensive to the festival’s organisers and judges that they apparently told group it was disqualified for it’s use of these “cuss words”.
Radhika Dhawan, Lakshya’s president told Hindustan Times, “We thought the judges may have had a problem with the few cuss words in our play. But the anchor of the competition told us that we should have been more careful as using words like these is okay in a girls’ college but not elsewhere”.
She added, “One of the judge said to us: ‘ran**, ha**mi, bolne mein koi dikkat nahi hai, you think about what else you’ve said’. Why the shame in using these words (bra/panty) when they’re just undergarments?”
The competition’s organisers have disputed the claims of disqualification. Neha Sharma, the competition’s coordinator told Hindustan Times, “The society has not been disqualified, they will only lose marks because they’ve broken the rules about obscenity. Not just words like bra and panty, they’ve used several other cuss words, too”. She added that other groups would also be penalised for cussing.
In her post, Basu condemned the “taboo-isation” of women’s bodies and everything related to them, including menstruation and undergarments like bras and panties, saying, “We just have to pretend disgusting things like consensual sex, women’s undergarments, mensuration, sexual desire don’t exist. However we can continue mentally stripping a woman down to her undergarments and dehumanise and objectify women at will, that is all kosher, we can lace every sentence of our everyday speak with sexually violent content, yet we cannot show the everyday life of a woman and talk about her BRA PANTY on stage.”
One can only imagine what the judges go through every time they walk past a line of drying laundry, a billboard or something as awful as a lingerie store.