Madan Gopal Singh
F WE ARE to understand Prasanna's Tughlaq in the light of the controversy that resulted in a permanent setback to the production, we cannot fail to keep in mind a context larger than that immediately visible. In this case the setback is not production was commissioned by a governmental or semi-governmental agency for the purposes of the promotion of official culture, or that it was scuttled because of its unpalatability to official aesthetics. We may, if we so desire, put the months of hard work and expenditure in the notwithstanding bracket. All that is there, but the real location of this setback will be found in an altogether different site:
the site of the struggle of tendencies. In the light of this controversy, it has become all the more difficult to view this production as an exercise in innocent theatre. Indeed, it does not seem to me to be an overstatement to suggest that within this struggle of tendencies what happened to Prasanna's Tughlaq is a miniscule image of a general, though much more serious, setback to the independent cinema\that the NFDCs recent resolve to go fully commercial has made it suffer. And I wonder if the same argument cannot be extended to the as yet 'unlegislated' Bihar Press Bill.
For even when one looks at this production in itself, granting it the autonomy that is above all its due, one cannot dissociate it from a certain post-Independence situation in theatre, from a perspective where antagonistic tendencies come to be concretized as a result of the conscious intervention by various artists. Viewed thus, it becomes imperative for us to consider this production as constituting a break within the struggle of tendencies.
What is it breaking from and what is the nature of this break? These questions will become clear if we take a look at the earlier NSD productions of Tughlaq and its short mesmerizing history that cast its spell on the subsequent developments in, at least, Delhi theatre.
Journal of Arts and Ideas 81