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Plays aren’t playthings

This World Theatre Day, let us revisit top 5 plays that took the entire nation by storm



Bollywood has left an imprint in each of our lives. The stars, the glamour, the paparazzi, all dazzle the eyes of every onlooker. Now, think about this for a second. When asked of the best actors in the trade, one would inevitably name those who come from a theatre background.

Our reasons would mostly be this: The actor has a certain depth to their skill, a natural flair and sincerity towards the character. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the power of theatre- the breeding ground of talent.

You will be amazed to know that Manoj Bajpayee, Sheebha Chaddha, Om Puri, Ratna Pathak Shah, Anupam Kher, Lillete Dubey, Nawazuddin Siddique, Pankaj Tripathi, among many others, come with a background in theatre. And yet, one cannot deny that the medium has lost its mainstream popularity.

Let us revisit the stage this World Theatre Day, and learn about top five plays that every Indian must watch.

Aashad Ka Ek Din’ by Mohan Rakesh

Believed to be Mohan Rakesh’s magnum opus alongside “Aadhe Adhure”, this play explores the relationship between success and love. It centres around Kalidas’s rise to become not only a great poet but also the king of Kashmir. However, all this comes at the cost of Mallika’s life, who happens to be the poet’s biggest muse.  

Andha Yug’ by Dharamvir Bharati

Referred by many as the play that marked the beginning of a new era in Indian theatre, it was also watched by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Written in the backdrop of the eruption of violence during the partition in 1947, the play presents a warning to all by recalling the end of the Mahabharat war which dehumanised and annihilated most of the human race. 

Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe’ by Vijay Tendulkar

Vijay Tendulkar has always been known for his strong social commentary through his plays. In the above mentioned play, he brings to notice the inherent social misogyny as a mock trial against a woman quickly assumes the form of a real-life character assassination.

Evam Indrajit’ by Badal Sircar

Badal Sricar gives a realistic portrayal of the frustration of the middle class youth during 1960’s through the character of Indrajit. Indrajit seeks to look beyond a meaningless life in the backdrop of a nation struggling through various pressures. He introspects the cause of his loneliness as he questions the bitterness from failed romances and a boring job. 

‘Yayati’ by Girish Karnad

Yayati, the mighty Kuru king, is obsessed with youthfulness and sensual pleasures. He is married to Shankaracharya’s daughter Devyani. However, in a moment of lust, the king enters into a relationship with Sharmishtha, Devyani’s attendant. The king is thus cursed by Shukracharya to lose his youth and become decrepit. However, the crown prince Puru exchanges his youth with his father to save the latter. But what follows forces Yayati to realise his ignorance and accept old age. In his very first play, Karnad, through Yayati, speaks of the modern man ready to go to any extent for his/her desires.  

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]