“Rudali”: Men, Women and the Politics of Crying

Saikat Guha

Department of English, Cooch Behar Panchanan Barma University, West Bengal. Email:

  Volume 1, Number 3, 2016 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/bp.v1n3.s103


In a compelling narrative, Mahasweta Devi’s “Rudali” scrutinises how the traditional image of a crying woman can be subverted against the background of outrageous corruption. Here the women do not cry at their own destitution, but their tears rescue the men from their shame. Engrossed in their lust for property and lacking in emotions, the Rajput men in Chhotanagpur area hire the “rudalis” (professional mourners) to cry at the funeral of their family members. But a powerful bonding between two rudalis who join hands with a host of sexually-exploited women can eventually gather enough potential to confront the hypocrisy surrounding the tyrannical social structure. The present paper focuses on how in a rotten world-order of rustic India tears can also be a thing for sale and how the oppressed women manage to manipulate chaotic situations for their advantage.

Keywords: Rudali, Rajput tyranny, hypocrisy, postcolonial subaltern, female bonding, subversion, quasi-spiritual experience

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