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ISSN: 0974-892X


January, 2018



Communal Discord in Dattani’s ‘Final Solutions’

Vibhuti Singh, Research Scholar, N.A.S. Degree College, Meerut


'Final Solutions' is a play outwardly focused on Hindu-Muslim incompatibility but inwardly full of mutual disagreement amongst the family members. The clash between fanaticism of The Hindus versus fanaticism of Muslims is highlighted. Lack of accommodation between the two communities gives rise to acrimony resulting in terrorism and anarchy. The play itself is a question mark on the age-old enmity between the two communities wondering if there would ever be a final solution to this endemic problem. But Dattani reaches the final solution with the thought that accepting the sentiments of others is the true religious tolerance. This is the only way this society can be protected from disintegration. The only way to strengthen the social fabric is mutual respect of one another's faith and feelings. Like in the play response of characters turns into self realization and liberalism in the play.

The communal disharmony undoubtedly has been an innate part of human society since the inception of organised human society. Ever since, the bloodshed, brutality and viciousness have been dealt by the playwrights all over the world. They have looked back in resentment and remorse to all those hideous deeds. They also have made efforts to look for some solutions to control this brutality and balm the wounded psyche. Literature written in English by the Indian authors describing the human cost of independence and partition comprises Khushwant Singh’s ‘Train to Pakistan’, Manohar Malgonkar’s ‘A Bend in the Ganges’ and Chaman Nahal’s ‘Azadi’ etc.’Train to Pakistan’ deals with religious tension which was radically exaggerated during partition period. ‘A Bend in Ganges’ foregrounds the partition as a product of the freedom struggle and the communalisation of Indian politics. ‘Azadi’ unfolds how humiliating the lack of national preparation for partition was when unrelenting sight on both sides of the Redcliffe Line was of roads dotted with refugees trudging to freedom. There are a number of Indian writers ,males and females,Hindu,Muslims and Sikh novelists who have contributed a great deal to the development of partition theme. Writers like Raj Gill,H.S Gill,K.S. Duggal and Attia Hosain also have a noteworthy contribution to this field. Hindi novelist Bhisham Sahni’s ‘Tamas’ is a personalized view of the bloody legacy of partition. Mahesh Dattani’s ‘Final Solutions’ foregrounds the Hindu-Muslim discord. Communal discord has been a global phenomenon. Communal violence is found in every part of the world like Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Australia. Right from Medieval ages in Europe Protestants clashed with Catholics, Christians clashed with Muslims while both perpetrated violence against Jew and Roman minorities. Africa witnessed the communal violence between Christian of South and Islamics of North. In Asia a clash between Malays and Chinese, Hindus and Muslims, Sunni and Shia sects has always been in discussion. Thus conflict or any form of violence between different religious groups, sects, or tribes or ethnic groups, different clans or different national origins is generally communal discord. India has witnessed various incidents since 1947 like riots of 1984, Babri Masjid demolition, riots of Gujarat in 2002 to massacre of U.P. in 2014 and 2015 (Dadri lynching).The very foundation of our nation’s independence is based on bloodshed and riots during partition. This ghost of communal disharmony keeps coming back time to time. This brutality and bloodshed find its place in Dattani’s well known dramatic work ‘Final Solutions’. The title itself has been derived from the Nazi Plan for extermination of the Jews during World War II. But ironically enough these frictions, dissensons and religious intolerance have never reached any certain final solution. However, the basic idea of this play is not to present any solution to the problem of communal disharmony. As Dr. Manorama Trikha has stated:

“Dattani’s aim is not to transform the society but to expose those situations which compel the audience think and develop some kind of insight into the marginalised and invisible issues of society like frictions, religious intolerance, gender inequality and sexual harassment and other dissensons and inconsistencies which are responsible for the terribly incomplete contemporary world.” [177]

The play ‘Final Solutions’ is an attempt to probe into the theme of transferred resentment i.e. to look for a soft target to hit out when one feels let down and humiliated. In Indian society bestowing physical and mental abuse on your wife and children has been a tradition. This play is also about a family with its simmering undercurrents.

The play is featured with time shift device i.e. the story keeps shifting from present to past and past to present. The play opens with Daksha reading from her diary. An electric lamp converted into the oil lamp suggests the period is late 1940s. While Hardika in present describes how the Gandhi family has faced the demon of communal riots from four decades. She observes and says: “Yes, things have not changed that much”. [P 197]

Even the chorus wearing masks exhibits communal tension, even the recurrence of words ‘us’ and 'them' in the play highlights the differences of both the groups. The very idea of conceptualisation of the idea of national identity has been discussed by Dattani brilliantly. Because when chorus is divided into Hindu - Muslim sects which use 'we' -'they' and 'our' - 'their' constantly. The issue of how we perceive ourselves is taken up. Chaudhari discusses:

“For the Indian, the most important battle for the establishment of a distinctive identity within the territorial location lay in the partition of India. National identities were conceived and took shape in accordance with the ideologies that formulated these on the basis of religion (and later, linguistic, ethnic, caste).” [77]

In the play there are only six characters Ramnik Gandhi, Hardika, his mother, Aruna - his wife, Smita his daughter and two youngsters Babban and Javed. Ramnik and Smita are liberal minded while Hardika and Aruna hold middle ground. Zarine, Javed and Babban are disappointed with this constant pressure of nationalism. Even in present day world Muslims have to deal with the same pressure.

In Act I the theme of fake tolerance and prejudice has been taken up. Both Ramnik and Javed are the symbols of fake tolerance and prejudice respectively. Ramnik is haunted by his past that keeps crawling in his present. Alyque Padamsee remarks: “is life a forward journey or do we travel round in a circle, returning to our starting point-?” [186]

Somehow older people tend to bring their prejudice to every situation while younger generation deals to uphold their views against their prejudice. This burden coming from the family members leave the younger generation devastated. The conversation of Aruna and Smita is the example of this clash:

Aruna- You know them?
Smita- I know who they are.
Ramnik- Why didn’t tell us?
Smita- I was too confused.
Hardika- Where did you meet them? In college?
Smita (unsure)- Well yes
Ramnik- What does that mean?
Aruna- Stop her studies! From now on she can stay at home.
Ramnik- Where did you meet them?
Smita- I told you.
Hardika- But they are not from here. What were they doing in your college? [168]

Act II explores the same details with modified intensity. Ramnik determines to provide shelter to the boys. While Hardika recollects the memories of her past:

“That night, I could not sleep. I listened. I was angry that Ramnik was blinded by his ideals. Why did he offer the boy a job in our shop; what was he doing? How did he know they were innocent? Couldn’t he see there was more violence in the eyes of the boy than those stone throwers’ threats?” [191]

Ramnik is trying to atone his past. He tries to get over the guilt of his past. When his father purchased the shop of Zarine’s father at nominal rates after it was burnt down by the rioteers during partition. Act II exposes the reality not only of Ramnik but also Javed and Bobby as it is revealed by Smita that Javed is thrown out of his house. Javed is hired by the political parties to create riots. She says: “Those parties! They hire him! That’s how he makes a living. They bring him and many more to the city to create riots. To throw the first stone!” [195] Act II ends with the declamation of Bobby that gives the possibility of repentance (penance) among the misguided youths.

In Act III the characters like Ramnik and Javed truly give an account of majority versus minority. The fake tolerance of Ramnik was by Javed and he himself blamed him to force the people becoming bigot due to the malice of others. This ‘others’ ‘different from us’, attitude has found its undercurrent throughout the play. During a conversation with Ramnik, Javed says:

“Arrest me? When they have been looking the other way all along. How do you think we got into the street? In their vans. They will arrest me. Don’t worry. To please people like you and a few innocent Muslims to please everyone.” [204]

Even Babban gives a true account of the life of Javed where he claims that Javed was a promising young boy who has been dragged to the profession of hoodlums of political parties. It is just the response of prejudiced and unthinking individuals who turned him into what he is today. No one is born corrupt but the environment makes him to be so:
And finally towards the end of the play Dattani brings a cathartic effect in almost all his characters. Smita sums up: “These are some things that need to be forgetting.” [218]

Hence Ramnik and Hardika find atonement to their past by letting go their prejudice and guilt. While Babban and Javed too give a thought beyond their communal identities. Bobby touches the Hindu idol in a highly subtle manner and concludes: “a human being who believes, and tolerates and respects what other human beings believe. This is the strongest fragrance in the world.” [225]

Datttani reaches the final solution with the thought that accepting the sentiments of others is the true religious tolerance. This is the only way we can protect our society from disintegration. The only way to strengthen our social fabric is mutual respect of one another’s faith and feelings. Like in the play generosity of Smita and the realization of Bobby is the only possible ‘Final Solution’ to save the society from the clouds of disharmony and violence, the response of each character is not mechanical rather the turmoil of emotion from within. Each character deals on two levels i.e. personal and social. Hence the feeling of disharmony and conflict eventually turns into self-realization and liberalism in the play.


Notes and References

Dattani, Mahesh, Collected Plays. New Delhi: Penguin publication, 2000.

Chaudhari, Asha Kuthari, Contemporary Indian Writers in English: Mahesh Dattani: An Introduction. New Delhi: Foundation Books Pvt. Ltd.,2005.

Multani, Angeline,Ed., Final Solutions : Mahesh Dattani. Text and Criticism. New Delhi: Pencraft International,2009.

Padamsee, Alyque- Collected Plays, Op. Cit P. 161

Trisha, Dr. Manorama, Post- Colonial Indian Drama in English. New Delhi : Pencraft International,2015.