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Flipping Through History

The play Mrutyunjay Amavasya shows how Maharashtra can look back to the 1680s to find solutions for the current drought situation.

Written by Garima Mishra | Published: April 4, 2013 2:34 am

The play Mrutyunjay Amavasya shows how Maharashtra can look back to the 1680s to find solutions for the current drought situation.

From 1686 to 1689,the entire region of Maharashtra was gripped by drought,much like these days. It was an era ruled by Sambhaji Bhosale,founder of the Maratha empire and the eldest son of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

It wasn’t only the drought that he fought during these three years. The kingdom also had to face individual wars with the Mughal empire,the Siddhis,their neighbours in Mysore and the Portuguese in Goa. “He handled all of this and the drought with great valour,not letting anything affect the common man in his kingdom,” says Nilesh Bhise,writer-director of Mrutunjay Amavasya,a Marathi play that sketches Sambhaji’s character differently and advocates his ruling methods as being relevant even in the modern scenario.

“The problems that our nation and state are facing now are not new. Politics and corruption were prevalent in Sambhaji’s era as well. The problem of drought was tackled judiciously through equal distribution of water and waiving off loans. Our state is going through a severe drought today and we need to turn back the pages of history to look for solutions,” adds Bhise.

He wrote the play in 2009 and two years later,staged an experimental show on a small scale with about 60 crew members. This time,however,the play has expanded its horizons and includes a crew of over 125. “It is not a period play; its beginning as well as end are set in today,” he says.

About being inspired to write the play,Bhise says he had read a book about Sambhaji when he was 14. The book portrayed the warrior in bad light,leaving Bhise unconvinced and curious about the real picture. At 16,Bhise came across an article on Sambhaji written by famous Marathi writer PB Bhave. Then,he read a kadambari (novel) titled Chava (Lion’s son) by Shivaji Sawant and a poem by Shahir Yogesh. All these works described Sambhaji’s bravery and how he ruled the Maratha empire after he ascended the throne after his father’s death.

The play brings forth the true character of this historical figure,who hasn’t been written about much. “Till today,many people believe that Sambhaji and his father didn’t get along. It’s a misconception and the play is an attempt at clearing such ideas. The father-son duo was arrested by Aurangzeb in May 1666 but both of them managed to escape by July. Sambhaji was just 10 years old then. At the age of 15,he commanded an army of 10,000 soldiers and during the nine years of his kingdom,he fought 135 wars,” says 33-year-old Bhise.

He adds that the play,which has been produced by Shivsamarth Pratishthan,will also travel to other parts of the state.

While Rohan Bhise plays the protagonist,other prominent characters are essayed by Aditya Tanavade,Shrikant Giri,Sanjog Pathak,Sagar Nagpure,Vaghish Ambekar,Anand Garde and Vaibhavi Kaduskar.

Mrutunjay Amavasya will be staged on April 5 at the open-air ground behind Sun Orbit,Anandnagar,Sinhagad Road at 7 pm.

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