Flash Back : Evam Indrajit - Ordinary People

Deepa Gahlot

Continuing our series on classic plays, with Badal Sircar's EVAM INDRAJIT, which has had several productions so far, many of which are online.

Written in 1963, Badal Sircar's EVAM INDRAJIT captured the restlessness of the young, and has come to be regarded as a milestone in Indian theatre. It has been translated from its original Bengali, published and performed in several languages-the English version was by Girish Karnad.

The Sixties were a time of a political and social churning in Kolkata as well as the rest of India, and the youth was caught up in its wake. The dream of a revolution was enticing, but eventually most of them settled for the safety of conformism.

A writer, struggling with inspiration for a story, decides to write about four young men in the audience, Amal, Vimal, Kamal and Indrajit. -the writer rejects the name Nirmal for the fourth and does not bracket him with the others. They are all parts of his persona but Indrajit is his alter ego, with whom he has imaginary conversations. Indrajit is the personification of the middle class trapped in a meaningless and repetitive existence. Like every other dreamer, he is tethered to his mundane life by his emotional entanglements, and financial needs. Mansi is the spirited girl who is Indrajit's confidante and the writer's muse.

The second act takes place after seven years, when Amal, Kamal, Vimal have settled down to job and family. Their work is humdrum and Indrajit wants a different kind of life. He wants to marry Mansi, but asks for more time-she has problems of her own. If men seem suffocated by convention, then the women have even less freedom. The mother is always seen either nagging or calling the son for a meal, as if that is the sole purpose of her life.

Indrajit realizes the futility of his struggles against the monotony of middle-class life, the writer cannot find a way out for him either, and is as stuck as he was in the beginning. Finally, he succumbs to the demands society makes of him, and becomes just an ordinary man, with no distinct identity of his own.

Sircar spoke for the young and in his unique abstract style, portrayed the spirit of the times; if the play is as powerful over half a century later, it is because every generation goes through similar turmoil, and very few come out unbloodied in the inevitable clash between dreams and reality.

(Deepa Gahlot is a journalist, columnist, author and curator. Some of her writings are on deepagahlot.com)

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