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Tughlaq

Tughlaq

Drama | Hindustani | 3hrs
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History is full of instances where entire masses of people have moved, voluntarily or otherwise, from one place to another, covering enormous distances, overcoming insurmountable obstacles, suffering untold misery. The Exodus, the Partition of India, the Bangladesh war, and the plight of Palestinian people, etc. are a few examples of such movements in history. 

Tughlaq by Girish Karnad, deals with one such mass displacement: the exodus of the wretched subjects of Tughlaq from Delhi to Daulatabad and back again, five years later, from Daulatabad to Delhi - a movement that is as futile as it is ridiculous. History makes Tughlaq out to be a much misunderstood ruler, whose far-sighted measures or reforms boomeranged because his people were not ready for them. Karnad’s Tughlaq seemingly conforms to this idea, but interpreting it unidimensionaly would detract from the timeless appeal of the play. Tughlaq’s dream is to found an everlasting empire fashioned after his vision in order to transform humanity which, to him, is like « cattle », although he hopes to « make men out of some of them » and create from them a superior race. Blinded by this vision, Tughlaq isolates himself from his people, even as he securely wraps himself up in his cocoon. His intolerance and rigidity, coupled with his maniacal desire to transform the world without first understanding it, lead to a self-imposed solitary confinement. This only reinforces the vertical and unilateral relationship between him and his people. The real tragedy of Tughlaq, and thereby of his subjects, is that he believes he is the sole arbiter of truth. 

The play demonstrates the chilling fact that in all of us there is a streak of Tughlaq, as much as of those mute masses whom he so ruthlessly manipulates. Every one of us has, at some time or the other, felt an overpowering desire to shape the world around us according to our ideas. More often than not, however, we end up among those nameless faceless people, trudging eternally from Delhi to Daulatabad.

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