19 September, 2020

Take Note, Arturo Ui

A post-Emergency play adapted from the Mahabharata is relevant in these times of thuggish Hindutva and loss of hope

Amit Haralkar
Take Note, Arturo Ui

Kiran Nagarkar’s latest book is not new, but two earlier manuscripts. You pick the book up, it’s a play titled Bedtime Story—in black sans serif on stark white with a purple spine and an illustration that hints of the Mahabharata. You spin it top down, and lo and behold, it turns into a screenplay on the other side, titled Black Tulip, with an illustration that could easily be the classy poster for a film.

Nagarkar began writing the play in 1976, when Indira Gandhi’s Emergency was fresh in his head and his sense of politics brimming to the top; and the screenplay as the new century broke, when a brooding cynicism may have crept into his consciousness.

Both manuscripts are linked by two essays Nagarkar writes—one, an intr­odu­ction to the play that reads more like a preface; the other an afterword for the screenplay. Both, while hones­tly dep­icting his coming of age as a man of lett­ers, show enough evidence of his lar­ger concerns and why in 2015 Kiran Nag­a­r­kar is an angry old...



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