Venue: Shri Ram Centre for Arts
Date: 27-28 May 2017
This classic pops up every other year and runs to a full house. The noted thespian Girish Karnad wrote the play Tughlaq in the year 1964 and it has had innumerable renditions thereafter. Tughlaq was recently presented by Shri Ram Centre Repertory last weekend at Shri Ram Centre for Arts. Directed by K. Madavane, this iconic piece of theatre evoked a lot of interest.
“Pagla Raja” / “Crazy King” .. these are various adjectives that our history texts use for the fourteenth century Sultan of Delhi Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. Girish Karnad’s study of Tughlaq is in a more balanced light. Karnad brings forth the evolution of Tughlaq from an idealist to a whimsical tyrant who is insecure about power and fame. It is an allegorical work on the Nehruvian era. While politics has moved on, Tughlaq is still a relevant commentary on the contemporary political situation in India. Much of the play deals with Tughlaq’s capricious decision to move his capital, along with all the citizens from Delhi to Daulatabad and move back to Delhi eight years later.
A wonderful ensemble of actors goes on energetically for almost three hours on stage taking us back in time. Be it Tughlaq or the nameless cast made up as white phantoms and representing his suffering subjects, each actor is worth noting. But standouts include Ayaz Khan as Tughlaq. Khan laughs – cries – emotes and convinces the audience of Tughlaq’s intelligence that shoot to eccentric level. His inner conflict – almost like split personality – moves us. Also, the comic timing of Saif Ansari who played Azam, a lovable rascal in Tughlaq’s reign, is impeccable.
Director K. Madavane has put together an amazing show with smooth transitions in the acts, a clear anchoring, and a cohesiveness that is most impressive. No actor pulls focus when they shouldn’t, and even the smallest actor is of utmost importance.
The simplistic set comprising of a high podium with steps represents the highhandedness with which Tughlaq reigned. The movement of this structure from left to right on the stage is a smart act to represent the shifting of capitals in his reign. Also the human chess pieces, depicting the chess board, reflects Tughlaq’s scheming approach. It is also a brilliant interpretation of the mazes in Tughlaq’s mind.
We encourage you to go and see this production. It’s summer and the sweltering heat may prevent you from pursing outdoor activities. If you want to escape into the labyrinths of history, then come out and support these fine players!
Tughlaq is being presented on 30th June 2017 at Shri Ram Centre and tickets would be available at the venue and on BookMyShow.