In this collaborative work between a computer science researcher (Denise Lengyel)and theatre researcher (Mrunal Chavda), the attempt is to answer the following question:
Can we trace actors’ physical manifestation and provide a link their internal states using a computer generated model?
The first part of this discussion relates to Chavda’s analysis of a theatre production of The Kanjoos by Tara Arts, a British Asian theatre Company in Earlsfield. Moliere’s The Miser in French set in seventeenth-century France has been adapted by Hardeep Singh Kohli and Jatinder Verma to Nagpur, a city in central India, Harpagon of The Miser becomes Harijider of The Kanjoos.
Tara Arts produced The Kanjoos at Tara Arts, Earlsfield (London) from 26th September to 13th October 2012 before touring in 2013. I viewed the performance on 29th September 2012. The production ran for 110 minutes approximately with a ten minute break. Patricia Dreyfus translated the French original play The Miser into English, which was then adapted into the play. Claudia Mayer designed the set and Howard Hudson provided the lighting. Danyal Dhondy composed the music while Sohini Alam and Hasan Mohyeddin vocalised it. Shreya Kumar choreographed the dance sequences.
Synopsis: The Kanjoos
Harjinder, with his two children Dimple and Kishore, lives in his haveli in the city of Nagpur, India. Kishore, antithetical to his father, is a spendthrift, gambler, excessively dressed and, an unwavering fan of Bollywood. Kishore loves Mariam and Dimple loves with Valmiki, Harjinder’s butler. Mariam and Valmiki, brother and sister, have lost their family in a catastrophe at sea. Having survived in the shipwreck, Mariam lives with her mother in Mumbai and Valmiki works as a Harjinder’s butler. Valmiki saved Dimple’s life on a beach in Mumbai whereas Kishore fell in love with Mariam at first sight in Mumbai.
Harjinder has lately received money and craves to accumulate more by means of securing a dowry for Dimple. Harjinder has assigned this task to Frosine, an originally from Dorset resident who fell in love with Indian spiritualism. Frosine finds Mariam and his mother who possesses a piece of land in Mumbai and is ready to marry Harjinder; unaware of Harjinder’s age. Frosine also searches Don Mulana Aslam, Valmiki and Mariam’s father, as a bridegroom for Dimple.
Kishore intends to marry Mariam as he fell in love when he visited Mumbai; however, he lacks dowry money. Lalli Farishta, Kishore’s trusted ally, arranges a meeting with a lender, Harjinder who sets unimaginable terms and conditions of repayment. Kishore, though, accepts them in order to meet him. However, both recognise each other and the deal could not be signed. Meanwhile, Frosine with Mariam visits Harjinder. Kishore and Mariam expresses their love for each other on their first meeting. Harjinder interrupts their serenade, while Mariam privately shows her dislike for Harjinder to Frosine. Ignoring his father, Kishore moves to ‘seal the deal’ with Mariam with his father’s diamond ring. Harjinder attempts to stop Kishore (re)distributing wealth resembling a “communist” (Kohli & Verma, 2012). Valmiki draws Harjinder’s attention to a visitor from whom he assumes to gain wealth. In the absence of Harjinder, Mariam and Kishore continue their coquettish interplay.
Harjinder and Kishore begin a game of wits as each seeks to marry Mariam. Valmiki intervenes in the increasingly entangled situation which creates a comic scene. Finally, Harjinder abandons his son. Lalli Farishta steals Harjinder’s money box for Kishore and Valmiki is accused of the theft by Manju Jamnadass, Harjinder’s cook. There is a confusion over “treasure” – by which Valmiki understands Dimple but Harjinder his moneybox. Reaching a climax, Frosine reveals herself as Don Mulana Aslam, who reunites with his two children. They arrange to be married to Dimple and Kishore without any dowry, and Harjinder’s moneybox is returned to him.
In this section, I analyse hasyarasa by selecting two specific events from the production. Following Whitmore‘s (1994) suggestion that it is frustrating to analyse thousands of events of the production, I have chosen a specific moments from the production. I limit my analysis of this episode and rasas as manifested by actors. The reason to select this moment can be explained as it relates to imposition of father’s wish and daughter’s refuting it (Harjinder’s attempt to convince his daughter Dimple to marry Don Mulana Aslam).
Discussing sentiments and moods, Bharata identified the comic sentiment with a lower class of society. Hasyarasa arises from the erotic – the happiness or pleasure that is “connected with desired objects, enjoyment of seasons, garlands, and similar things, and it relates to the union of man and woman […] and includes conditions available in all other sentiments (1961, 110)”. Bharata listed the determinants, such as unseemly dress, near obscene utterances and pointing out the faults of others, displaying deformed limbs, quarrels, covetousness, misplaced ornaments, and impudence. Bharata listed among its consequences biting lips, throbbing of the nose and cheek, widening of the eyes, contracting eyes, perspiration, and colouring of the face and holding one’s sides. The transitory states are lethargy, dissimulation, drowsiness, sleeplessness, waking up and envy.
Convincing Dimple to marry Don Mulana Aslam
As mentioned earlier, Harjinder and Frosine search for a bridegroom for Dimple. They ‘find’ wealthy Don Mulana Aslam from Mumbai who is “less than sixty years” old (Kohli & Verma, 2012) and is to meet Harjinder in his haveli. Dimple’s agreement to marry that evening would mean a marriage without paying a dowry and financial savings on Harjinder’s part. However, Dimple needs to be convinced. Harjinder and Dimple’s conversation arouses hasyarasa emerging from determinants such as pointing fault of others and a quarrel. This could be related to the flaws Dimple finds in Harjinder’s decision to marry Aslam, as well as Aslam’s faults in terms of his age. Dimple attempts to avoid such a marriage with courtesy, keeping her and Valmiki’s love to result in marriage in the future. Father-Daughter argument reaches a peak when Harjinder begins to invert Dimple’s utterances. For example,
Dimple: This is something you will absolutely not reduce me to.
Harjinder: This is something I will reduce you to absolutely.
Dimple: I will kill myself rather than marry such a man.
Harjinder: You will not kill yourself … I will not allow it! When has a daughter ever spoken to her father like this?
Dimple: And when has ever a father married his daughter like this?
Harjinder: My choice for you will be approved by all India.
Dimple: Modern India will not approve it, father. We lead on women’s rights.
Harjinder: Women’s rights? Women’s rights are alright for the right women. And you are not the right woman to have such rights. Alright? (Kohli & Verma, 2012) [I am thankful to Jatinder Verma for extending the production script to me, to cross check the accuracy of transcription.]
The above discussion relates to the still picture 1 shown in this link. Photo © 2013 Tara Arts
At first glance, one could see the symmetry of posture of both the actors. However, a careful analysis could reveal a significant difference in their bodily manifestations. To discourage Harjinder imposing such a decision and to show her despair, Dimple employed malina glance (ends of the eyelashes, non-shaking, pale, ends of the eyes, fallen eyeballs, Table 5) and visana glance (eyelids drawn wide apart, no winking slightly motionless eyeballs, as above). The affliction due to her father’s decision resulted in her pihita gesture with eyelids (when the eyelids are at rest, Table 8). Speaking about her rights, she used udvahita head gesture (head turned upward once, Table 9) indicating her self-esteem. Her utksepa eyebrow (rising of the eyebrows simultaneously, Table 11) showed her anger towards Harjinder. Her svabhavika (natural nose, Table 12) and ksama cheek gesture (fallen cheek, table 13) along with kampana lower lip gesture (throbbing of lips, Table 14) might suggest her fear and sorrow. Pleading and urging to her father appeared as offering prayers by employing khandana chin gesture (when the two lips repeatedly come together with each other, Table 15). Her gestures such as udvahi mouth gesture (The mouth turned up, Table 16), svabhavika colour of the face (indifferent mood, Table 17) and unnata neck gesture (neck with face upturned, Table 18) related the disregard for the proposal. Harjinder did not listen to her, which disheartened her. Dimple performed this mental state with abhugna breasts gesture (the breasts lowered, back high, shoulders slightly bent and at times loose, Table 20), nata gesture with sides (the waist slightly bent, one shoulder drawn away slightly, Table 21) and khalva belly gesture (bent belly, Table 22).
Harjinder, on the other hand, tried to persuade Dimple to marry Aslam employing drpta glance (steady and widely opened eyeballs, motionless, emitting power, Table 4). His anger for disobedience is reflected through his unmesa (spearing eyelids, Table 8) and nimesa eyelid gestures (bringing together eyelids, Table 8). He ordered her to marry Aslam displaying akampita head gesture (moving the head slowly up and down, Table 9). He displayed bhrukuti eyebrow gesture (raising the root of the eyebrow, Table 11), sandastaka lower lip gesture (lips bitten by teeth, Table 14), chinna chin gesture (when the two lips very closely meet each other, Table 15) and udvahi mouth gesture (the mouth turned up, Table 16) towards Dimple as an object of anger, anxiety and energy. His manda nose gesture (lobes at rest, Table 12), purna cheeks gesture (expanded cheeks, Table 13) and unnata neck gesture (neck with face upturned, Table 18) furthered his anxiety and energy. Harjinder’s hurry and despair were reflected with his abhugna breasts gesture (the breasts lowered, back high, shoulders slightly bent and at times loose, Table 20), khalva belly (bent belly, Table 22) and sthambhana gestures with thighs (suspension of movements, Table 24). The conversation between father and daughter could be termed as a quarrel and reproach to each other. This fervent verbal exchange was marked with paralinguistic features such as excited note (proceeds from the head register and is of extra high pitch, Table 39) and high, excited and fast intonation (Table 40).
Harjinder and Dimple created a comic situation in their attempt to assert themselves on each other.
Keeping this analysis in mind, the question is : Can we trace actors’ physical manifestation and provide a link their internal states using a computer generated model?