Taj Mahal, a monument of love was not built in a day. And if Shah Jahan were to build it today, the story would be entirely different. Taj Mahal Ka Tender, written by Ajay Shukla and directed by Gajraj Nagar, explores the twisted path of corruption, bureaucracy, and red tape. It is staged regularly across the country, especially in Delhi and Mumbai.


The play begins with Shah Jahan wishing to build a monument for his eternal love, Mumtaz, whom he lovingly calls ‘Momo’. He summons the chief engineer Guptaji to float the tender of Taj Mahal. Therein starts the trouble, as a vicious group plan to loot the king, including Guptaji, his secretary, the contractor, the pollution department, a local thug, and a pseudo baba. They all want a big bite of the funds that are allocated for the building of the monument. The characters reflect the shrewd self-preservation and bottomless greed, which kills the dream of Shah Jahan and ultimately, his Highness. The countless delays, digressions, and bribes remind us of our own reality. The message the play tries to impart is that Shah Jahan gets old and dies but the system lives on.


A comic-satire, Taj Mahal Ka Tender is a scathing remark on the society that we live in. It elicits laughter and yet, hits the point. Even with slapstick comedy, the theme is the focal point. A special mention to Rahul Gulati who essays the role of Shah Jahan magnificently and his six darbaris who burst into a song while announcing the king’s arrival. Gulati breaks the fourth wall several times to connect with the audience and each time, he sends us rolling around in laughter. His antics as the character and otherwise is the highlight of the play.


For a comedy play, Taj Mahal Ka Tender runs a little longer than necessary. The scene with Mumtaz and her ‘ghost’ friends can be done away with.


The play is a powerhouse of wit and humor with a very significant theme. It was relevant two decades ago when it was written and it is relevant even now. Watch it to enjoy a laughter riot, or for its brilliant cast and writing. It creates an alternate world making you laugh and squirm at the same time.