(The Tragic Fall of the Mughals)

A Bengali play written and directed by Sh. Torit Mitra.
DATE : 5th & 6th December 2008 (Friday & Saturday)
VENUE : The Little Theatre Group, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi
TIME : 6:30 PM (both days)

It was on the August of 1909, that the well-known playwright of Bengal, Sh. Dijendralal Roy, had written one of the most soul string tragedies of Bengali Plays, which was also an astounding stage success, Shahjahan.

I pay my tribute to the century old classic and its creator through my latest effort Zawal-e-Azim.

Zawal-e-Azim has not been built around any scintillating historical episode of the Mughal Empire. Instead, it can be concluded that it is the documentation of the distinct and inevitable decadence and downfall of the colossal Tartar Empire established by Babar.

The play begins in the middle of the year 1658. Shahjahan has come to Agra Fort from Delhi owing to his illness. His eldest daughter, Jahanara, has also accompanied him for his nursing, care taking and general superintendence. Along with the Emperor’s declining medical condition, is also coextending an unprecedented peril on the geographical as well as political frontiers of the Mighty Mughal Empire.
The evils being apprehended do not only pertain to risks of external aggression, but also serious tremors in the internal administrative infrastructure. The prestigious Mughal throne is being notoriously disputed over by its heirs, the four sons of the ailing Emperor. Though the essence of the action and reaction of the play will be determined by the complex administrative interplays of the time, Zawal-e-Azim is not just a theatrical testimony of a series of sinister psychologies of trust, mistrust, conspiracies, betrayal and vendetta, it is also an empathetic analysis of the natural emotions and simple values of a vulnerable worldly being, which may not be paving the way for a desperately dramatic or emotionally appalling act. On the contrary, it associates itself more with the helpless heart of Emperor Shahjahan ripped apart with painful indecision and of course, an unidentified, remote and repressed emotion of love. Zawal-e-Azim ends with a note of a heart shattering agony. Although, the play is based on the historical records of the Mughal period, it should more aptly be called a historical tragedy, a pain smitten portal of entering the mystical mind place of human life, riddled with self-contradicting conflicts.

Though Shahjahan is the central character of this tale of tragedy, he has not been rendered as the typical deprived depreciation of a tragic protagonist. He was still the central system of his administrative and political machinery and had suffered the merciless persecutions too, in the hands of the unavoidable injunctions of the State, in due course of time. Though the indecent upheavals of destiny of an already powerless man evoke sympathy in us, it does not give rise to oceanic impulses of pain from a bereft heart. Where then is the tragedy of the Emperor?

The inspiration to Zawal-e-Azim, has been this very bewildering question, the answer to which has become an incessant search in the whole play.

The human witness of this historical, rather soul shattering saga, has not been any conceited religion fanatic man, but rather an apparently inactive and obscured woman. This enigmatic woman had endured the characteristic brutality and crude idiosyncrasies of the Mughal Empire, since infancy, at times silently and at other times with the help of her poetic acumen.

Extraordinarily intelligent that she was, had observed the receding dominance of the Mughal Empire, the successful uprising of the cold-blooded intentions as well as the crushing defeat of over-ambitious vanity. Her tearless eyes had survived some of the most immoral and inhumane atrocities, after which the silent spectator in her, had, in peerless soliloquy rendered unspeakingly, pulverizing the pompous ivory tower of aristocracy:

“Let my grave be covered with a bed of grass,
let the grass be the adorning grace of me, the ever irrepressible” (translated).