Evam Indrajit Summary

Badal Sircar

Evam Indrajit

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Evam Indrajit Summary

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Evam Indrajit is a 1963 three-act play by Indian dramatist and theater director Badal Sircar, first translated in 1975. Known for his anti-establishment plays written during the Naxalite movement in 1970s, his plays were often performed in the public arena and challenged conventions of Indian theater. His plays were heavily inspired by traditions of folk theater, while developing an identity of its own rooted in contemporary politics. Many of his plays lack a plot or concrete characterization, and the actors often chose their roles from performance to performance and even exchange them in the middle of the play. Audience participation is usually encouraged. Evam Indrajit is an abstract, absurdist play with a central theme of the monotony of a mechanical existence. It explores the writing process and the search for inspiration and something exciting to motivate creation. It was Sircar’s first drama after a string of comedies, and remains one of his most enduring works, especially outside of his native India.

The story of Evam Indrajit focuses on a writer, who narrates the story without ever being given a firm identity of his own. He struggles with writer’s block, striving to write his play but falling short and unaware of the root causes. He has never experienced life in its most primal way, instead being focused on his own experience as a writer. As such, he doesn’t have the material to write about, and instead focuses on the audience of the play. He attempts to write about them, but is frustrated there as well. He frequently becomes enraged and tears up his manuscripts. He finally finds inspiration in a woman named Manasi.

Like the writer, Manasi is not a character with her own characterization, but a representation. She represents the Indian counterpart of Carl Jung’s concept of Anima. This refers to an entity that serves as a pointer to the collective consciousness. Both the main characters and their concept of identity is frequently questioned, especially the writer Indrajit. He changes his preferred name multiple times in the play, and frequently expresses discontent with his identity. His persona splits between three names, Amal, Kamal, and Vimal.

He feels compelled to write, even at the cost of neglecting important bodily functions that he needs to live. He is obsessed with seeking a purpose in life. The play focuses on his life, his love and obsession with Manasi, and his growing revolutionary leanings against society. However, soon the ruling class and their attempt to impose order on his life begin to crush his spirit. His three personalities, Amal, Kamal, and Vimal each play different roles in society and are played for laughter as they struggle against society. Indrajit, in his persona as the writer, continues to resist, but eventually he becomes convinced that there is no escape from society’s clutches.

As the play reaches its final act, Indrajit attempts to seek meaning in exploring the world. He travels to London, but finds tht world just as unsatisfying as the life he left behind. He soon finds himself contemplating suicide but decides he is incapable of this as well. The play ends without bringing his story to any sort of conclusion, as Indrajit comes to the realization that the past and present are two ends of a single rope. The play is ultimately about the futility of life and the roles we all play in society.

Badal Sircar is considered one of the most prominent and influential modern Indian playwrights, having written more than fifty plays in a career that spanned fifty years. Born Sudhindra Sarkar in Calcutta, he received a degree in comparative literature from the Jadavpur University. However, it was while he was working as a town planner around the world that he entered theater. He is considered the founder of what is known as Third Theater, an experimental form of theater that involves direct communication with the audience and emphasizes expressionist acting along with realism. His first play, Bara Trishna, was performed in 1951 with him in the initial cast. He wrote Evam Indrajit a little over a decade later, and it was performed by the Shatabdi theater group, which he founded. As the years passed, he became one of the leading figures in street theater in Bengal, and his angry, anti-establishment plays became the voice of a generation. He criticized the government, the caste system, and overall problems in societies. His later plays, including an adaptation of the Howard Fast novel Spartacus, moved into traditional arena theater. He is one of India’s most decorated playwrights, willing the 1971 Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship in 1971, the Indian government’s Padma Shri award in 1972, and a 1997 lifetime achievement award by India’s National Academy for Music, Dance, and Drama. In 2009, two years before his death, Bada; Sircar’s life was celebrated in a five-day festival by India’s most prominent theater directors. Several of India’s most prominent film directors today have cited Sircar as their most significant inspiration.