The revolutions you didn't know

Updated: Feb 10, 2020, 09:13 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

Mahesh Dattani readies to stage the journey of two young freedom fighters Khudiram Bose and Thillayaadi Valliamai on stage for the first time in Mumbai this week.

Actors Shubham Chaudhary and Swati Das play dual roles
Actors Shubham Chaudhary and Swati Das play dual roles

History is broadly defined as the study of past events. Among this pool of incidents, only a few fish make it to your textbook. And so, many are forgotten. Starting this week, theatre stalwart Mahesh Dattani's play, Snapshots Of A Fervid Sunrise, gets you to take a deep dive into history and pay heed to the lives of Khudiram Bose and Thillayaadi Valliamai — names that are perhaps alien to history books in school. The two died young, but it is their love for the nation that lives on in the soul of the movements fighting for democracy today.

A staunch opponent of British rule in India and their policy of the partition of Bengal in 1905, Bose along with Bengali revolutionary Prafulla Chaki attempted to assassinate the magistrate Douglas Kingsford, who was infamous for hating freedom fighters, by throwing a bomb on his carriage. But accidentally, he blew up the wrong carriage and was hanged to death when he was 18 years old. On the other hand, Valliamai, chose the path of non-violence. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa to immigrant parents, Valliamai had never been to India but inspired Mahatma Gandhi in his fight for freedom. She protested against the apartheid regime and was put into prison. The harsh conditions there led to a long-standing illness and Valliamai passed away shortly after her release.

The main props include a red fabric, a winnowing fan, grains of rice and a stick
The main props include a red fabric, a winnowing fan, grains of rice and a stick

The play is being staged for the first time in Mumbai, after shows in Chennai and Hyderabad. The title doesn't give away anything but metaphors, and Dattani says, "It came to be instantly. The working title was Snapshots Of A Sunrise but I felt like I needed this one qualifier. I was thinking about choosing either fervent or fervid and eventually settled on the latter. The names of these two aren't on our lips and their photos aren't in government offices. So, their fight is a sunrise we missed because we woke up too late."

The writer-director credits Dushyanth Gunashekhar for giving him a seed of an idea four years ago. Although the play was commissioned by Crea-Shakthi, a theatre group in Chennai, it is being revived by Dattani and Brinda Shankar's Playpen Performing Arts Trust. "The main props comprise a red fabric, a winnowing fan and grains of rice [suggestive of unity], and a stick. It was important to me to find actors who go beyond the fervent nature of patriotism and show the human side of it," Dattani shares, adding that irrespective of its political context, Mumbaikars ought to turn up for a well-told story that leaves them with a moment of reflection on the human condition.

Mahesh Dattani
Mahesh Dattani

On February 12, 7.30 pm and 9 pm (SAPP); February 22, 7.30 pm (NCPA)
At St Andrew's Centre for Philosophy & Performing Arts (SAPP), Bandra West; National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Nariman Point.
Log on to bookmyshow.in
Cost Rs 300

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