First published in Ligament, Vol. 2, Issue 2.
Cover photo by Desmond Roberts, courtesy Mandeep Raikhy
In conversation with Ranjana Dave.
On its day off, the charpoy leans against a wall. It is not far-fetched to say that it looks forlorn. Dancers hang sweaty towels on its legs and disappear behind its webbing for a quick change of clothes. Occasionally, it sways dangerously, threatening to crash to the floor. Perhaps it itches for action. When there is ‘action’, the charpoy looks alive. Once, after some vigorous ‘action’, it broke, its wooden frame cleanly halved. That paved the way for a whole week of ‘palang-tod’ jokes. After that, another charpoy—a body double—always lurked in a corner.
Occupational hazards apart, we’ve established that the charpoy is a people person. But it favours intimate gatherings and likes to interact with the audience. In collaboration with two male dancers, it creaks, rattles, and cracks, vocalising assent, dissent, and consent. So, where does one meet the charpoy? It is at the heart of Queen-size, choreographer Mandeep Raikhy’s response to section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises homosexuality in India. Ranjana Dave speaks to Mandeep as Queen-size tours four cities in North-East India.