ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Political in GPD's Plays

Talking the Political Culturally is the title GPD chose for the last collection of his essays (Kolkata: Thema, 2009). When he chose to bring the dynamics of politics itself and the distinctive persona of the politician or political activist to the centre of his “political plays”, rather than the political-in-historical-episodic situations as has been the convention in Indian political theatre, he was making a conscious departure to a genre that can be described as one that “talks the political culturally”. Interestingly, it is in Satyashodhak (1992) for the first time that he dealt with a specific historical situation, and as he acknowledged in his prastavana, it was a by-product of his research on Jotiba Phule for the historical script he prepared for Shyam Benegal’s Bharat Ek Khoj. It was its originary stimulus that led to its exploration of forms embedded in everyday popular culture – and its production by a “political” theatre group, the Jana Natya Manch, which again was instrumental in forcing the playwright to complete the text after the date of the premiere had been fixed.

In his earlier trilogy of political plays – Uddhwasta Dharmashala (1974; translated as A Man in Dark Times), Ek Vajoon Gela Ahe (1983; translated as Past One o’Clock), and Andhar Yatra (1987; translated as A Passage to Darkness) – GPD focused on the political activist and his performance of politics in the public and the private space simultaneously; located in a trajectory that subtly documented the emergence of socialist ideas in mainstream Congress politics, the subsequent communist secession, and the eventual split in the Communist Party and its aftermath. The politicians who stand at the centre of these plays represent different political positions and ideologies. Daulatrao Rajemane in Andhar Yatra is the nationalist Congressman. As GPD explained,

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