Shashi Deshpande, “Shadow Play”

Shadow PlayHaving read Shadow Play, I am of the firm opinion that Shashi Deshpande is brilliant at observing, describing and writing about women –their situation, relationships, nudging readers to notice many of the things women leave unsaid or half said. Shashi Deshpande is also wonderful at writing about children. Once I read an interview with her where she said she began to write soon after she became a mother. Shashi Deshpande is familiar with and is empathetic to the space women occupy in society in a manner that few have.  Yet it may be time she discarded the need to use a fictional space like a novel to pour out her heart about the status of women and children in India, especially of the middle class. Her years of experience and anecdotes would be far more effective in non-fiction writing. Otherwise the yoking together of her passion for analysing and commenting upon gender equations with fiction seems very forced.

Shadow Play has been shortlisted for The Hindu Prize 2014. ( http://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/shortlist-of-the-six-novelists-of-the-hindu-prize-2014/article6471245.ece .) The award will be presented by Justice Leila Seth n 17 January 2015 in Chennai.

Shashi Deshpande Shadow Play Aleph Book Company, An independent publishing firm promoted by Rupa Publications India, 2013, Delhi. Hb. pp. 312 . Rs. 495.

12 January 2015 

1 Comment

Riddhi Kunjwani

about 2 years ago

Shadow Play by Shashi Deshpande is a sequel of her novel A Matter of Time, where few characters were left unsaid about their mysteries. Besides challenges, Shadow play is about the love and optimism one must bestow. Since ancient times, women are tending to be passive and docile. Because of the oppression in a patriarchal society, they lack in having opportunities to explore themselves. Moreover, considering the male dominance, women are less independent, less educated, and at some point, less rational towards themselves and society. Evidently, they are nurtured in such a way that makes them subservient and hence they fail to opinionate themselves which further leads to depression and disengagement. However, as the decades and centuries are passing, we could see a drastic transformation in women. With the various movements in feminism and with the self-realization of women per se about their liberation and potential, they are comparatively less oppressed and less submissive. Today, a woman realizes and fights for her independence in physical, mental, social, political, economic, and psychological contexts. She is no more a gender that is born to be neglected or trapped. The above outlook can be traced in the novel, Shadow Play by Shashi Deshpande, which incorporates various feminist notions from the book The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir. They are further presented in the characterization with the conjunction of disappointment and hope which makes the characters even more vehement at the end, which is a new and happy beginning for them.

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