Channelling their inner women

Author Devdutt Pattanaik (above) will tell the stories of goddesses in Indian mythology with music from pianist Anil Srinivasan in Tales In Black & White.
Author Devdutt Pattanaik (above) will tell the stories of goddesses in Indian mythology with music from pianist Anil Srinivasan in Tales In Black & White.PHOTO: ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY
Author Devdutt Pattanaik will tell the stories of goddesses in Indian mythology with music from pianist Anil Srinivasan (above) in Tales In Black & White.
Author Devdutt Pattanaik will tell the stories of goddesses in Indian mythology with music from pianist Anil Srinivasan (above) in Tales In Black & White.PHOTO: ESPLANADE - THEATRES ON THE BAY

Goddesses from different stories in Indian mythology - from Sati and Parvati, the wives of the Hindu god Shiva; to Rukmini, Radha and Satyabhama, the consorts of the Hindu god Krishna - are the focus of Tales In Black & White, which combines storytelling with music.

"Indian mythology has a rich tradition of women's stories and powerful female characters that are often eclipsed by stories of men. We felt this feminine heritage should be shared with people," says Devdutt Pattanaik.

The 46-year-old Indian author will be telling their stories in English in this 80-minute show.

"We will be talking about different goddesses who suffer men, enchant men, cajole men, humour men, invoke men, indulge men, control men."

The performance will also feature Carnatic and Hindustani music by pianist Anil Srinivasan, 39.

  • BOOK IT / TALES IN BLACK & WHITE

  • WHERE: Esplanade Recital Studio, 1 Esplanade Drive

    WHEN: Sunday, 5pm

    ADMISSION: $30 from Sistic

These stories highlight not just female figures who exhibit dominating strength, such as the Hindu goddess Kali, who stands for destruction and power; but also those who embody more subtle forms of influence in their relationships, such as Parvati, who draws Shiva away from asceticism to become a husband and father.

Pattanaik says: "We want people to appreciate how the female form in Indian mythology is not homogenous, but heterogeneous, and how it stands on an equal footing with the male form, complementing it and completing the Hindu idea of the divine."

The duo, who have performed this show before in Chennai, have no qualms about championing female strength.

Pattanaik, a former physician who now makes a living writing books and speaking about the relevance of myth in modern life, explains how people have both masculine and feminine sides, depending on whether they focus on things in the external world (male) or the internal world (female).

"There is a woman in all men and a man in all women. Anil and I are channelling our inner women in this show. We underestimate the androgynous nature of our mind, which is not restricted by biology."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2016, with the headline 'Channelling their inner women'. Print Edition | Subscribe