A dramatised reading brings alive the events of the Gadhar movement,a little-known part of Indias freedom struggle
Almost 100 years ago,a group of people from the city of Sacramento,California,USA,decided to play a part in Indias struggle for freedom. Thus was born the Gadhar Party of India and a revolutionary movement. A significant,yet less-known chapter of the freedom struggle,the modus operandi of the party was to go to India,collect arms and arsenal from the sepoys in India and overthrow the government. Almost 150 people of the Gadhar party were hanged and many others imprisoned.
Though short-lived and not well-planned,this movement drew the attention of people living outside India towards it. To mark the centenary of the Gadhar Movement,the University Alumni Association of the Department of History organised a reading of Gadhar Express on Wednesday by Dr Atamjit Singh,who had written the play in 2009.
The idea of reading the play,the first event in the series of the year-long celebrations,was to give the audience a peep into the past through theatre. Play reading is an important aspect of theatre,especially historical plays that need multiple characters to tell a story. Its also a way to get the audience absorbed in history, says Singh.
Staged at Sacramento two years ago,the play highlights the actions of several unknown heroes of the Gadhar party as well as famous ones such as Lala Hardayal. I have never written a play like this,but had material that no one else did. It was tough to pen it down as the events had taken place all over the world and over many years. The movement was the hero of the play,and many technical skills were involved in writing as you have to justify the historical perspective and get to the fore the conflict between the two parties, says Singh,a National Sahitya Akademi and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award Winner.
As for staging the play in India,Singh says it requires a big budget and a huge cast. Only then can history be projected. Till then,I will pass on the word by reading the play and playing many characters through words, he says.