As'for'radical' politics, do you mean our association with the Communist Party ? 'Radical' is a non-committal expression. It was the Communist Party which gave birth to political theatre in our country as in every other country. And I was in close connection with the Communist Party of India before I joined the IPTA. This was when the Party was under a ban in West Bengal, in 1948-49.1 was a student at the time. But we had started working for the Party, the underground party.
MRB : Can I go back to your production of Bisarjan and Inspector-General^ What was the specific political perception you had about these two plays at that time ? What was your political response to them ?
UD: My political response to these plays you see, even the terminology of the intelligentsia is so confusing to me, I very often do not understand. What do you mean by my 'political response' to these plays ? Do you mean, how are they politically useful ?
MRB : Well, yes; but one particular play can be interpreted in many different ways. I gather that your production of these plays had a specific political component That is what I am trying to get at.
UD : Bisarjan is an all-out attack on superstition—on religion as such, not only superstition—and it is one of Tagore's extreme left-wing plays. Communists don't attack religion until long after the revolution. Anyway, we wanted to test the people's response to Tagore. The IPTA Central Committee met and discussed whether we should take up Tagore at all, and they all agreed that we should, especially a play like Bisarjan. So we did it and I am sorry to say that my production of Bisarjan was awful, it was very bad. The audience response was aggressive, even offensive. Of course, Tagore's Bisarjan has never been successfully staged, because the petty bourgeoisie don't like the play. The petty bourgeoisie cannot stand the way Raghupati throws away the idol of his goddess. It is too much for them. But Gogol's Inspector-General was a little better as a production and the people seemed to like it.
MB : I think it was around this time that you contributed something to Unity perhaps, which was in response to an article by S.A. Dange on Tagore's Achalayatan ? Were there such discussions at that time in the IPTA and how did you feel about these discussions ?
UD: The journal was Indian Literature, not Unity. Well, Dange had written extolling Tagore's Achalayatan, which was under production at the time in our own unit, the Little Theatre Group. He praised it uncritically, and said it was a call to revolution, with which I disagreed violently. I answered, saying that the end of Achalayatan was not a call to revolution, but a call to surrender again to
26 ' July-September 1984