Isolation of Queer Sexuality in Mahesh Dattani’s On a Muggy Night in Mumbai


  • Sashi Bhushan Assistant Professor: English Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay Government Degree College Tilhar, Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh 242307 India


Mahesh Dattani has earned the appreciation far and wide for directing the focus of drama towards the existential crises of neglected queer and transsexual community that lacks a well thought-of position in the existing social order. Through taboo and forbidden subjects in his path breaking works like Do the Needful, Bravely Fought the Queen, Seven Steps Around the Fire, and On a Muggy Night in Mumbai, he puts their “closet issues†on stage and gives a much-needed vent to their existential dilemmas with a disinterested spirit. This paper focuses on how he openly voices the hidden fears, terrifying vulnerability, sheer isolation and social exclusion of the non-normative, marginalized and alternate sexualities in one of his widely acclaimed plays – On a Muggy Night in Mumbai. Dattani unveils the grey areas with scientific spirit and explores the socio-cultural instruments responsible for the subversion and denial of the identity to the homosexuals that are predestined to remain invisible within the world of homophobia and heterosexism marked with barbarous intolerance. It portrays how antagonistic cultural paradigms and mainstream of Indian society approach the alternate sexualities as insignificant “others†and forces them to hide their true identity to avoid social stigmatization. The fear of exposing themselves and facing the subsequent ostracization compel them adopting the façade of heterosexuality and hypocrisy. The play lays bare the pathetic predicament of the homosexuals whose activities forbidden in the Indian context as the conventional hetronormative codes highly disapprove of their sexual proclivities. The heterosexist code of conduct, based on the predominant socio-cultural paradigms, sees their relationships as highly unnatural, blasphemous, obnoxious, offensive and impious. Dattani, with creative resistance, examines their claustrophobic space and demands a more humane ambiance and open space for them.

Key Words: Alienation, Hypocrisy, Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, Isolation, Marginalization.


              A giant among the modern-day playwrights, Mahesh Dattani is a trendsetter who takes literature as a weapon to fight the evils of our times that plague the society and torture the marginalized. He is a versatile genius as he has been successful as an actor, director, playwrights and author.  Being one of the most philosophical writers and champion of true art, he shot into literary limelight quite early through his unconventional way of writing. He received the esteemed Sahitya Academy Award for his ‘Final Solutions and the Other Plays’. He along with Badal Sircar, Asif Currimbhoy, Nissim Ezekiel, Vijay Tendulkar, Girish Karnad, Mohan Rakesh and Manjula Padmanabhan, is credited for bringing revolutionary changes in the national theatrical scenario. His contribution is unparalleled for the reason that he has not only enriched the theatrical tradition of modern times with creative innovations but also given the effective, faithful and crystallized reflection of human sensibilities and experience. His plays reflect upon the established mind-sets, blurred sentiments and vague discontents, afflicting the mind and soul of today’s subjugated individuals.


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