Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Mohammad Aurangzeb, commonly known as Aurangzeb, was a man of many shades. While on one hand, he played an instrumental role in expanding the Mughal empire, on the other hand, he was known to have staunch religious values that went against Emperor Akbar’s secular policies.
KS Rajendran, professor of the National School of Drama and founder of the New Delhi Theatre Workshop, a theatre company based in the capital, attempts to highlight the power tussle between Aurangzeb and his elder brother Dara to become the right successor of their father, emperor Shah Jahan, in a Hindustani play titled Aurangzeb. The production, which premiered in 2007, has been staged in various parts of the country and is an adaptation of Padma Shri Indira Parthasarthy’s work, which was penned in 1974.
The play selects events to highlight the ideologies of the characters. While Shah Jahan symbolises a self-indulgent, romantic aestheticism; Aurangzeb articulates and fiercely fights to establish an Islamic fundamentalist state; and Dara projects himself as a statesman striving to preserve a pluralist nation.
Rajendran says, “This piece draws parallels to today’s political scenario. While Dara was liberal, Aurangzeb was a fundamentalist. As Parthasarthy had penned this work a few months before the Emergency, it offers among other things, a critique of the one nation-one language-one religion theory.”
Earlier this year, the production ran into trouble. Its staging was cancelled in the capital after the organisers felt its subject was too sensitive. However, Rajendran exclaims, “Theatre is supposed to be volatile and compel the audience to think. But having said that, Aurangzeb doesn’t take any political stand. It depicts how a creative artiste looks at history.”
When: Today, 7.45 pm onwards
Where: Swatantryaveer Savarkar Auditorium, Shivaji Park, Dadar