Matsyagandhi by Sajitha Madhathil


About The Author

“Matsyagandhi” was written by “Sajitha Madhathil,” a feminist and Malayalam (Kerala) theatrical activist. She was a member of the Abhinethri (actress), Kerala’s first women’s theatre organisation. Sajitha Madathil is a veteran Indian film and theatre actress. Tanur is where she was born to Chandrashekharan Menon and Savithri. She had her primary and secondary schooling in Kozhikode and afterwards a Masters degree in Theatre from Rabindra Bharathi University in Kolkata. She had always been drawn to the theatre and had a deep interest in acting. She is a living icon who has witnessed and experienced the shift from theatre to cinema. She also received the Asiavision Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Kanal Vayala Puraskaram for her contribution to Malayalam Theatre. She was never a brazen lady who revelled in the limelight, but she was always passionate about her work and gave it her all. She came from a family of actors, yet she excelled in both film and theatre. She directed the drama “Matsyagandhi” after being inspired by the University. She never looked back after that and went on to direct and act in more plays. She accomplished a great deal during a time when women were not even allowed to work. Rabindra Bharathi University not only provided her with professional experience, but also a life companion in the form of Robin D’Cruz, whom she met during her post-graduate studies. Aromal, their gorgeous kid, was born. Her career in the theatre was going well, but she wanted more. She began her ambition to work on the mini-screen with a Sara Joseph serial. Marthandavarma, one of her most well-known pieces, was broadcast on Doordarshan. This serial provided her renown and a foothold in the people’s house. Everyone admired her performance, and she ultimately received an offer to work in a movie theatre. She made her debut in the film Nizhalkoothu, directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan, which is regarded an evergreen. She also directed a number of documentaries and short films. Ottomandaram is another well-known piece of hers. She once directed 75 episodes of the Pen Malayalam documentary. She is a role model for many aspiring directors and actors. In 2000, she received the Kerala State Television Award for the best current affairs show, as well as the Kerala State Council Award for Best Children’s Documentary. From 2000 until 2002, she worked as a producer at Kairali TV. She did several amazing plays before entering the film industry, including Aashad ki Ek Din (1993), Beauty Parlour (1999), and Guardians of Deep (2002). She works as a lecturer and theatrical expert at the National Institute of Integrated Learning and Management in New Delhi. Because of her pleasant and simple yet intelligent personality, she is always treated with great respect. She also worked as a Deputy Secretary at the Sangeet Natak Akademi in New Delhi until 2014. She appeared in a number of films, including Adimadhyantham, Ivan Megharoopan, Nadal, Nilam, and many others. One of her most well-known works was the film Shutter. The film was a smash hit, and Sajitha’s performance was outstanding.

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Context

✒️ The production was a result of an international collaborative theatre project, Theatre for Africa, in which Sajitha was invited to take part.
✒️ This was a component of South Africa’s 2002 Earth Summit, which focused on sustainable development in fishing communities.
✒️ The initiative asked six actors, including Sajitha, from six continents to participate.
✒️ Throughout the project’s approximately six-month span, the actors first performed for a month the solo performances they had developed.

The Relevance of the title Matsyaganddi

✒️ Satyavati was the queen of Hastinapur’s Kuru king Shantanu and the great-grandmother of the Pandava and Kaurava princes.

✒️ She is also the mother of the epic’s author, the seer Vyasa. Her narrative is told in the Mahabharata, the Harivamsa, and the Devi Bhagavata Purana, among other places.

✒️ Satyavati was raised as a commoner – the adopted daughter of a fisherman-chieftain Dusharaj (who was also a ferryman) on the banks of the rivers Yamuna. She was the daughter of the Chedi king Vasu (also known as Uparichara Vasu) and a cursed apsara (celestial nymph)-turned-fish Adrika.

✒️ She was known as Matsyagandha (“She who has the smell of fish”) because of the smell emanating from her body, and she assisted her father in his career as a ferryman.

✒️ Satyavati encountered the travelling rishi (sage) Parashara as a young woman, and he fathered her son Vyasa out of wedlock.

✒️ The sage also bestowed upon her a musky scent, earning her the names Yojanagandha (“She whose fragrance is spread for a yojana (8-9 miles)”) and Gandhavati (“fragrant one”).

✒️ Satyavati later fell in love with King Shantanu, who was charmed by her smell and beauty. Her fisherman father agreed to let her marry the Emperor Shantanu on the condition that her offspring with the emperor would inherit the kingdom, denying the birthright of Shantanu’s eldest son (and crown prince) Bhishma.

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Summary of Matsyagandhi

“Matsyagandhi” is a one-act play on the trials, tribulations, and problems of the fishing community in the age of globalisation. Wright’s play depicts the life of fisherman, their hardships at sea, issues at the fish market, and risks they confront as a result of mechanised fishing motor boats and trawler nets in the context of globalisation.

The one-act play “Matsyagandhi” is about the struggle of fisherman. Fishing is a major industry, and many poor people rely on it for a living. Their lives are fraught with anxiety and fear, as natural disasters such as cyclones would occasionally force them to the highways.


The author depicts the challenges of fisherman’s lives, their traditional methods of fishing, and the financial difficulties they confront as a result of technological changes in the industry. The story is told in the form of a theatrical monologue. A fisherwoman performs on stage and tells the audience about her trials. Their issues are likened to the stink of fish.


The setting varies from one location to another. The one-act play describes the seashore, harbour, boats, market, and ships. The development of fishing leads to the rise of commercial boats and ships. Fishermen who scratch out a living through traditional methods of fishing are unable to adapt to the changes, and they face financial challenges.

Urbanization resulted in the development of colonies and the building of houses. Manu ponds and lakes have vanished from towns and cities, making way for homes. The absence of water had a negative impact on the fishing community. With the introduction of motor boats, the lifestyle of fishermen underwent significant change. They had a quiet life. They were joyful and tranquil despite their poverty. The woman is overjoyed with the excellent news. She hopes that the folks on the beach will be able to find work in the harbour and in the big hotels.

The woman stands on the beach, recalling her childhood memories with her mother. She draws parallels between their current and previous lives. Their source of revenue is a mystery. They are sometimes forced to tolerate the stink of unsold fish. Their financial woes worsen as the price lowers. The woman is occasionally seen on the market. She describes the difficulties she encountered at the location. The arrival of trawler boats and foreign vessels has an impact on them. There have been numerous reports of fishermen being killed by the wrath of the sea. Satyavathi, the adopted daughter of a fisherman, is the subject of the play “Matsyagandhi.” She was known as a saintly woman whose son, Vyasa, was fathered by a travelling sage named Parashara. Matisya Gandhi is her given name because she smells like fish. The pitiful lives of the fisherman do not correspond with Satyavanthi’s life in the original storey, therefore there is an element of sarcasm in the storey. Their lives have been sad.

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