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Sons of Babur: The other door into history




“Who we were is what we are,

A heart in becoming!

And that we shall ever remain,

for it bequeaths souls not breeds”

Rundown: Rudranath Mitra is a research student, who in pursuit to unearth ‘Mugal Era’ in its most dynamic locations, ends up landing in supernatural kitchens of fictions, pursuits and imaginative intelligence and visiting Bahadur Shah Zafar. He seeks to visit Zafar’s grave in Myanmar while Zafar is staged languishing in exile in Rangoon. Rudra, who besides a scholar represents us and our confined reckoning of past, bumps into Zafar in exile who seems to be brooding way beyond what our factual knowledge proffers. The confrontation opens up a magical web of discussions that cross through time and space, blending facts and fiction. Zafar takes Rudra through crucial phases of Mughal era where Rudra witnesses Babur, Humanyu, Akbar, Jahangir, Shahajahan and Aurangzeb in their most insightful moments. The moments are scenes emphasizing upon pluralities of ‘Hindustan’.

Incitements: The play takes dialectical steps exploring delicate spaces where history is mute and only reachable in imaginative retrospections. Where demerits, disgust and oppression are confronted along the lines that also touch what is overlooked and worth considering. The play stresses on whether it is not misleading that we take historical phases as isolated occurrences with certain ideological ends. Is it wise to choose history as unequivocal over history as vibrant?

The sight of Jahangir, holding lamp to see and to be seen, remains an insightful gesture to our remoteness with the past. Jahangir seeks Rudra as much as Rudra seeks truth. Through the lens of fictive curiosity and assisted by unbiased readiness, Rudra comes across an alternative and the only remedy to the wounds of identity wars. The play calls upon ‘Hindustan’ as a journey of visions and assimilations, which negates the very ideas and associations, that emphasizes upon sects and blood lines.

Denouement: The continuous echoing of “…Babur ki aulado wapis jao…” when framed in the vastness of ‘Hindustan’ simultaneously echoes the absurdity of such claims and thoughts. The play echoes the terrible conflicts from in/about Kashmir under smog of Hurriyat to the sectarian massacre in Syria, and all other catastrophes which have their share in dark pools of identity wars. The play questions as to why make history resistive and not progressive? If Zafar’s subtle remark on Rudra, of him being the last emperor and not Zafar himself, can tickle our sense of identity than we are certainly beholding a wise theme and a compelling production by Pierrot’s Troupe.I must say it is a production ‘worth attending.’


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