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Death and Identity

Ranjana Kaul

By Meera Kant
Vani Prakashan, Delhi, 2008, Rs. 150.00


Meera Kant has the distinction of being one of the most prolific young Hindi playwrights today. Her plays, including Nepathya Raag, Kaali Barf and Ihamrig, have engaged with an interestingly wide range of subjects in both contemporary and thought provoking manner. Her plays are distinguished by her skilful use of dramaturgy, and her ability to use language creatively in dialogues and create visual vignettes on stage which translate into gripping theater. Huma ko ud jane do (Let Huma Fly Away), one of her recent plays, is a complex and skillfully woven dramatization of a brief though significant period of Mughal history. It is an imaginative reconstruction of the seventeen days of deception which lay between Babars son Humayuns accidental death and its public acknowledgement. The play takes creative liberties with historical facts, in her introduction the author acknowledges that the play isnot an attempt to rewrite history but an attempt to stop at a certain point in time to ponder over events that have taken place. Historically, none of the women of Humayuns household, neither his wives nor his sister Gulbadan, were present in Delhi at the time when Humayun accidentally fell to his death from the stairs to his library. In the play however all the events following his demise are seen from the prespective of his beloved wife Hamida Bano, who was Akbars mother. This adds poignancy and a sense of urgency to events as Hamida deals with the pain of loss while facing the necessity of making political decisions which will impact the life and inheritance of her son, the heir to the throne of Hindustan. History lends itself to different perspectives and the play reveals the complexities and contradictions which were an innate part of Humayuns life and character. The name Humayun meant one who is blessed by Huma, the legendary bird of good fortune. Yet, ironically, he is acknowledged to be one of the most unfortunate of the Mughal emperors. He spent almost his entire life wandering, fighting, losing and winning. He faced extreme hardship and deprivation and died within just a year of regaining the throne of Hindustan. The play reveals an individual whose life is riven by conflict and uncertainty, both within himself and in the destiny which awaits him. The playwright uses numerous flashbacks and the memories of the other protagonists to reveal a man capable of extremes of behaviour, of great ...

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