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ISSN: 0974-892X


July, 2013



Vibhuti Singh

Contemporary Themes in Select Plays of Mahesh Dattani

Rightly has Shakespeare remarked in his play ‘As You Like It’-

“All the world is a stage,
And all the men and women merely player;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts.” (available on

In the true sense, Mahesh Dattani, the most unorthodox and contemporary playwright of Indian English drama has used the medium of stage to present the invisible issues to the audience as theatre is the mirror of real life. Alyque Padamsee calls him “ one of the most serious contemporary playwright ” ( title page Collected Plays volume 1).

Mahesh Dattani, a multifarious artist of contemporary Indian English drama is a director, actor, dancer, teacher and writer all rolled into one. All these identities are the manifestation of the persona emerging out of a varied background – born on august 7, 1958 in a Gujrati family, settled in Banglore . He studied in Bladwin’s high school like any other middle class boy, admitted by his parents to an English medium school. He is a graduate in History, Economics and Pol. Science, followed by the post-graduation in Marketing and Advertising Management . He has worked as copywriter and subsequently joined his father’s business. He has founded a theatre group Playpen in 1984. His debut as a film director was ‘Mango  Soufflé’. He is a trained and accomplished dancer of Bharatnatyam. He teaches theatre courses at the summer session programme of Port-land State University, Oregon, USA. He conducts workshops at his studio. With his Sahitya Akademi award winning performance for ‘final solutions’ and other plays in 1998. He draws his inspiration from Vijay Tendulkar, Girish Karnad, Tennesse Williams and Arthur Miller. The other playwrights who have inspired him the most are pointed out by him in an interview; “The playwright Madhu Rye influenced me a great deal in his portrayal of middle class Gujarati hypocrisies. Vijay Tendulkar’s ‘Silence the Court is in session’ and ‘Sakharam Binder’ impressed me with their complex portrayal of women characters” (Subramanyam 134).

But Unlike Girish karnard who lays emphasis on history, myths and purans, Dattani raises the voice of contemporary urban Indian society and the fast changing scenario of the modern society and his excellence as a playwright lies in the very fact that he writes what he knows, deals with and ponders over i.e. ‘here’ and ‘now’ of modern contemporary urban Indian society. He himself remarks during a conversation: “ Theatre to me is a reflection of what you observe … I write plays for the sheer pleasure of communicating through this dynamic medium.”(Anita Nair 24)

Thus he not only demonstrated the vibrant Indian English but also the themes and the characters can be related by any middle class or upper middle class Indian. He addresses all the burning issues of urban Indian society like – gender discrimination, child sexual abuse, marginalized sexualities and religious intolerance leading social disharmony. Tanu Pant in her article rightly states – “He has chronicled the social victim and the follies, foibles and prejudices of Indian society”.(32)

She further focuses on his usage of theatre as a powerful tool of social change. She expresses: “Dattani tackles issues that affect societies the world over. Just like Ibsen and Shaw, Dattani also exposes the evils prevalent in the society.”(33)

With all his protest against the evils in the society, he resembles Ibsen and Shaw. He not only gets inspired from these dramatists but also inspires the young generation of Indian English Dramatists to bring the issues which have been put under the rug. In a course of interview Dattani expresses:

“You can talk about feminism, because in a way that is accepted. But you cannot talk about gay issues because that is not Indian [that] does not happen here. You can’t talk about a middle-class house wife fantasizing about having sex with a cook or actually having a sex life – that is not Indian either – that’s confrontational even if it is in Indian.”[Erin. B. Mee 163]

The present paper aims to study certain selected plays of Dattani to bring forth the contemporary themes dealt by him. In the process of questioning the old age norms and conventions of our society he raises the issues like – homosexuality, lesbianism, child sexual abuse and religious intolerance that how deeply our minds have discriminatory inhibition in spite of our liberal pretence. John McRae illustrates:

“The plays of Mahesh Dattani bring Indian drama into the 1990’s with a vengeance.  They are the plays of today, sometimes so actual as to cause controversy, but at the same time they are plays which embody many of the classic concerns of world drama.” [55]

The first section of the paper presents gender inequalities in Indian families: Discord and power equations in family relations taking into consideration his plays ‘Tara’, ‘Where There is a Will ‘ and ‘Bravely fought the Queen’.

The next section deals with the issue of child sexual abuse, portrays the harassment of female child in Indian society with special reference to Dattani’s ‘Thirty Days in September’.

The third section establishes Mahesh Dattani as a social visionary , putting forward the invisible issues of marginalized sexualities in his plays ‘ On a Muggy Night in Mumbai’, ‘Do the Needful’ and ‘Seven Steps Around the Fire’.

And the last section discusses the issue of Religious Intolerance disrupting social harmony, followed by national disintegration as portrayed by Dattani in ‘Final solutions’.

Dattani innovates the ways of creating a real world on stage with a complete portrayal of the fabric of Indian society which consciously and unconsciously discriminates on the basis of gender. Male is preferred to female in every possible way by both (male and female) equally. Explaining the theme of ‘Tara’ Mahesh Dattani told in an interview:

“The play is misread and people tend to focus on the medical details but that’s really not what the play is about? It is a metaphor either for being born equal as male or female and sharing so much more and with the surgical separation comes as cultural distinction and prejudices as well, but on the other level, it could also deal with the individual having the male and female self and half the self (female) is, whether your gender is male or female, is definitely given the lower priority.”(Sachidanand Mohanty 171)

‘Tara’ is a kaleidoscopic image of an Indian family oozing with patriarchal values where the identity of a female exists only in terms of her relationship with men. Here a boy (chandan) and a girl (Tara) are joined together at the hip since their birth, they are Siamese twins. The twins were born with three legs that were supposed to be operated surgically but this operation led to the death of one of the two. It is later revealed that the decision taken by Tara’s mother left Tara crippled for life. Not only Bharati (Tara’s mother) but also her father plays a fowl game of providing the third leg to the boy, influencing the doctor monetarily. This act not only leads Bharati towards insanity out of guilty in which she seems to compensate her daughter through excessive love. She says to her son: “I plan to give her happiness. I mean to give her all the love and affection which I can give …Love can make up for lot.” [349]

Even Chandan (Dan) is fighting back to find his own neglected self of himself. He says: “I have my memories… but now I want them back. To masticate my memories in my mind and spit out the result to the world in anger” [323, 324]

The anguish of Tare is not only the discrimination her own mother inflicted upon her but the betrayal by a mother crushes her down deep inside. Tara gets disillusioned of her so called happy and caring family settings. This deepens the agony of Tara. She becomes petrified on the revelation that it was her mother who chose Chandan to be benefitted by the third leg in spite of the fact that the chances of survival of the leg were bright with Tara. Mr Patel in his conversation with his children:

“A scan showed that a major part of the blood supply to the third led was provided by the girl … The chances were slightly better that the leg would survive on the girl. Your grandfather and you mother had a private meeting with Dr. Thakkar. I was not asked to come…I could not believe what she told me – that they would risk giving both legs to the boy. J[378]

The play ultimately draws our attention to the very fact that Tara is not the physically handicapped girl but who has been handicapped due to her gender.

In ‘Where There is a Will’ Dattani explores the absurdities of the patriarchal code of Indian society in which a child is entitled with the lifelong agenda to be followed by his father even before the birth of the child. With his birth a child is not only into the riddles of relationships – being someone’s son, brother and so on but even he has been constantly under the crusher of his family’s expectations. He has no choice but a list of choices to be followed. This is the story of the protagonist  Ajit who does not want to be barely a photocopy of his father Hasmukh Metha. Ajit expresses his anguish “I don’t think he has ever listened to me in his entire life.”[455]

Hasmukh’s reaction to his son’s statement reveals his despotic nature towards his son: “What makes it worse is knowing that I actually prayed to get him. Oh God! I regret it all. Please let him just drop dead. Just turn him into a nice vegetable so he won’t be in my way. Ever since he entered my factory, he has been in my way.” [455]

Not only Ajit but also his wife Preeti, his mother Sonal and even his father’s mistress Kiran are being monitored by Hasmukh after his death through his will. He is a typical man who emphasizes the intellectual snobbishness than emotional bonding to run a family. Hasmukh mocks at the institution of marriage – “I think the important reason anyone should marry at all is to get a son. Why is it so important to get a son? …  A son should make me happy, Like I made my father.” [475]

Dattani shows the tussle between the strong desire of the old generation to check over the younger ones and the young generation determined to be free from any patriarchal code. But somewhere down the line Hasmukh Mehta is even the shadow of his own father, he has been an obedient son to his father all through his life with no individuality of his own. Doing something different is wrong in his point of view so he tries to control or rather arranges a puppetry show out of his family through his will. But his daughter-in-law, the most sensible and insightful person efforts the most to get her freedom by manipulating the circumstances.  She plans to arrange a natural death for his father-in-law as he has been the hurdle of her way in realizing her dreams of living a life of her own choice. Preeti is next to Kiran in I.Q. Kiran is the mistress or the father-figure for Hasmukh who always in habit of following orders as he has no individuality of his own. Kiran expresses: “Where were his own dreams? His own thought whatever he did was planned for him by his father” [509]

It’s not only Ajit who bears the injustice of patriarchal tyranny but Hasmukh has even lost his identity under the same pressure, hence the play is a bold assertion of individual choice in life.

While commenting on ‘Bravely fought the Queen’ Michael Walling points out:

“Postcolonial India and multi-cultural Britain have an urgent need for a cultural expression of the contemporary; they require public spaces in which the mingling of eastern and western influences can take place” (Collected Plays vol. 1)

The story deals with three couples existing in a hierarchical order, vis-a-via Jiten and Dolly, Nitin and Alka and Shridhar and Lalitha. Jiten and Nitin are the brothers who are the respective husbands of two sisters Dolly and Alka. They deal their life in a strict dictate of patriarchy while Shridhar and Lalitha are the employees of the other two couples. There are other characters too who are closely connected to the main characters and impact significantly the progress of the play for instance Baa, Daksha, Praful and auto driver.

The play ‘Bravely Fought the Queen’ establishes the position of women in Indian society as marginalized however the globalization has affected the core of our society. But play scrutinizes the chance that has been introduced in our social set-up as Dolly and Alka have reduced merely as the show-piece in their house without any real assertion of their will. The presence of Dolly and Alka has been taken for granted. Not even Jiten and Nitin but Baa has been the representation of patriarchy during the entire play. The play exemplifies the exploitation endured by the females of educated urban India. Baa  and Dolly are exploited in somewhat similar manner under repression of their male counterparts. As Dattani expresses in an interview –

“I am not sure I have portrayed the women as victims in ‘Bravely Fought the Queen’, I see men as victims of their own rage and repression. This has serious impact on the lives of women.” [Subramanayam Lakshmi 130]

The anguish and frustration of Alka is due to her husband’s homosexuality and the deceit of her brother Praful of not revealing the truth about Nitin. She pangs out:

“The saint gives sister to the sinner and disappears! finished. Matter over … the saint has another sister who is bad, bad, bad. He beats her till she gets better.  And he has this friend. A best friend! The sinner’s brother turns out to his best friend.” [300]

Lalitha’s fascination with nurturing bonsai is symbolical representation how the natural growth of the women in our society has been curbed under the pressure of patriarchal code. But the play reveals the fact that the suppression cannot last long and an insurrection would be there to question the monarchy of men. Ultimately Alka and Dolly reconcile with a note of fighting back against all the injustices inflicted upon them in the wake of patriarchy. Dolly says – “And we can all go – bravely fought’. Bravely fought the queen! Full of many valour.” (296)

Thus in the above studied plays – ‘Tara’, ‘Where There is a Will’ and “Bravely Fought the Queen’ Dattani reveals the venom of gender inequalities present in the contemporary Indian society. He even explores both the masculine and the feminine self within himself.

Dattani deals with whatever is present in our society, however harsh it may be, it’s his attempt to ponder over the hidden issues and presents them before the audience to give them a thought. An excellent example of his observation is the play ‘Thirty Days in September’. NGO RAHI (Recovery and Healing of Incest) approached him to write a play on the impact of child sexual abuse on the survivors. And to get the basic material of his play he spent five days close to the victims. And the result was the completely exhausting and heavy play ‘Thirty Days in September’. Mahesh states in his interview –

“I was completely exhausted at the end of it all. Felt very drained. In fact  I did not go back to the material for a long time. I could not bring myself to. Then after a long gap I revisited the material and started working on it”(Anitha Santham

The play centres on a mother and her daughter who was sexually molested by her uncle when she was young. The story is about the daughter’s recovery and survival and the keen sense of betrayal she feels towards her mother. Mala expresses: “You forget as usual. You forget what you do not want to deal with!” “That’s not true. You are never there … you never have been” [22-23]

People who are abused when young go through a range of emotions starting from betrayal to anger to guilt to feeling that their body is not their own and that’s it is a tool to attract attention. The story is told in retrospect through the eye of survivor. Mala in one of her soliloquies muses:

“May be . But I do see what she has been through. It’s been more difficult for her I guess. He comes back. He ruined my mother’s life too. No matter what I try to do, it all seems to come back to him. I want to forget! I just want to…” [57]

The core of the play is the silence and betrayal of the family that affects Mala. As Shantha knew that her daughter was being sexually abused by her uncle but still chose to keep quiet. It’s the silence that makes the abused (Mala) feel betrayed. Mala screams out in pain:

“I am not talking about a bad dream! I am talking about the time when uncle Vinay would molest me. When I was seven, eight …You were busy in either pooja room or kitchen. I would go to papa and cry. Before I could tell him he would tell me to go to you. You always fed me and – you never said it but I knew what you were saying to me without words. That I should eat well and go to sleep and the pain will go away. But it comes back. It didn’t go away forever.” [25 – 26]

Hence with description of upper middle class as the background of the play Dattani does not want the educated urban people to dismiss sexual abuse as something that does not happen with them but with the people of working class condition.

The dramatic canvas of Dattani is coloured with all sorts of unconventional, contemporary and free from taboos themes. Homosexuality- as an argument of preference rather than a psychotic disorder, has been presented by Dattani in his plays like ‘Bravely Fought the Queen’, “On a Muggy Night in Mumbai” and “Do the Needful”. His plays observe gay/homosexual relationship as an identity crisis which results from being marginalized and oppressed in the traditional society of India. The identity of gays and lesbians has not yet been recognized and they are left to lead a secluded life with their own inhibitions. Dattani admits: “I have found out that sexuality can’t straitjacketed or compartmentalized. They are varying degrees of love and bonding one feels for another person irrespective of gender” [Ayyar Raj 37]

Even this issue of asserting one’s own sexuality that too homosexuality has always been put under the carpet in Indian English literature but contemporary writers have attempted to portray the so called taboo relationship in Indian society. And Dattani is the mouthpiece of gay identity crisis. And the very theme fabricates the plot of ‘On a Muggy Night in Mumbai’. The play begins with a shocking start where a middle aged security guard is being paid for sex. The action revolves around the living room of Kamlesh, a fashion designer living in Mumbai. In the company of some of his friends he confesses that he is still in love with Prakash, who was also a gay. By now Prakash has got rid of homosexuality and is planning his marriage with Kiran, the sister of Kamlesh. The party thrown by Kamlesh exposes the varied experience of homosexual community. Sharad an enthusiastic type of fellow, does not care how world reacts to his being a gay. His companion Bunny in antithesis of Sharad is a dual facet personality. Their friend Deepali in spite of being a lesbian is sensitive enough to sustain her identity with dignity. In the very beginning , the desperate attempt of Kamlesh to try out different clothes on Kiran and changing her hair style, is suggestive how unconsciously he tries to search out something that is beyond external bonding. As soon as Prakash who is also known as ‘Ed’, gets involved with Kiran in dance, Kamlesh gets restless and to avoid the situation he derives through the busy streets of Banlgore till he comes to a silent road and finally to a family farmhouse ultimately leading to a Mango groove. The three situations – the party, the solitary farm house and mango groove prepare a compact but tense background to expose the mental condition of Kamlesh. All these venues are the psychological representation of Kamlesh. During party his irregular, erratic behaviour, broken sentences, uncertain comments vivify the emotional crisis of Kamlesh. Sharad is a gay but is helpless to have insight into the agony of Kamlesh. In order to catch his conscience. Sharad quotes the name of Prakash and kamlesh reacts instantly and aggressively: “how dare you bring that up.”[117]  In a curt reply Sharad retorts: ” you could never love anyone because you are still in love with Prakash.” [177]

Dattani makes a suggestive experiment with his dramatic art to explore the hidden recesses of human consciousness and here he has achieved the target of universality. In “On a Muggy Night in Mumbai”, Dattani traces the concept of homosexuality and also tries to explore how far it modifies the personality of an individual. Even in 1986 all references to homosexuality as a psychiatric disorder were removed from the Diagnostic and statistical manual of Mental Disorder (D.S.M.) of American Psychiatric Association. Through this play Dattani exhibits his take on considering gayness not as unnatural, unethical and psychological disorder. But the relationships are something beyond gender; they are comprised of passion, assurance and preference. Being Marginalized and oppressed, the homosexuals are always the victims of identity crisis. In the introductory note to the play, John McRae holds, “… it is a play about how society creates patterns of behaviour and how easy it is for individuals to fall victim to the expectations society creates.[45]  The closet homosexual Bunny acknowledges,  “ I have tried to survive in both the worlds, and it seems I do not exist in either.”[103]

He resolves to be true to himself and to his wife by confessing and asking for forgiveness. Sharad and Deepali, on the strength of their conviction remained unchanged while Ranjit‘s decision to leave India gets reinforced, for to quote him, “I cannot seem to be both Indian and gay.”[88]

Ed emerges as the most pathetic character who is revealed in his machinations to conform to heterosexuality, ends up becoming self-alienate. Homosexuality is not a matter of choice and so discrimination based on these grounds is questioned. It was radical on the part of dramatist to introduce an issue in theatre that is usually treated as ‘taboo’ in Indian theatre. Besides, the unconventional language experiment with a reaction and responses of the audience makes play exceptional in theme and technique. The whole presentation is arranged in such a manner that homosexuality instead of being recognized as taboo, has become a natural human experience. The path breaking play ‘On A Muggy Night in Mumbai’ was followed by other works which even dealt extensively with different aspects related to gay identity as in the two radio plays – ‘Do the Needful’ and ‘Seven Steps Around the Fire’. The struggle dealt in these plays is for visibility, voice and social space. Gay relationship has been tabooed just because since it is not procreative, does not entitle it to be unnatural and carnal.

Wielding a ‘who did it’ detective plot, Dattani skilfully brings out the petty insecurities of higher strata and hypocrisy that permeates society at large. Uma, the scholar detective with the help of Munswamy,, her reluctant aide, unravel the mystery of murder of Kamla, a beautiful eunuch. Uma discovers that the murder has been perpetrated by Mr. Sharma, a minister, on account of his disapproval of the secret marriage between Kamla and his son Subbu. Mr. Sharma forced his son into a marriage of his own comfort. He states – “My truth is in ensuring he is on the right path”. [37] Hoshang Merchant in introduction to Yaarana, gay writing India declares – “… most homosexual get married due to social pressures. Some commit suicide. Most adjust to double life, so do their wives.”[16]

The play ‘Seven Steps Around the Fire’ fairly investigates the obstacles that hinder the possibility of love, loyalty and dedication in a relationship between a eunuch and a homosexual while ‘Do the Needful’ deals with societal conflicts and familial relationship in humorous way. The gay hero Alpesh and the notorious heroine Lata, get into a marriage of convenience with a secret agreement to follow their natural inclinations. There is an honest dishonesty with the arrangement (marriage) yet there is a doubt in the minds of both the characters whether their respective partners will understand and empathize with them. Alpesh is a gay and idea of heterosexual marriage was a serious blow to him. Lata is in love with salim, a Muslim boy. Both the relationships are prohibited according to cultural practices of society. Lata implores, “Please, Amma  please don’t insist I agree to this! You are ruining my life.” [122]

Dattani explores the crisis with comprehensive realization of helplessness of human ambition. His concern for homosexuals with the hidden agenda for getting the social approval for taboo relationship has further been a motif in the play ‘Do the needful’. In both the plays ‘On a Muggy Night in Mumbai’ and ‘Do the Needful’,  the dramatist while expressing his sympathy for gays who are neither morally degraded nor mentally sick, exposes their struggle with their own inner selves. Dattani’s emphasis in both the plays has been in exposing the psycho-pathetic condition of those who struggle against fate and society. The acceptance of Kiran and Lata is to enunciate that unconventional humanitarian approach which is the only panacea for the community of homosexuals.

Dattani condemns the dishonesty and insincerity in relationship. He does not criticize homosexuality as sexuality in identified as one way of realizing One’s self. The consciousness of one’s social desires and its recognition is almost similar to being conscious of one’s sexual desires and forms of its realisation. Sexuality is another aspect of one’s identity of which if there is a denial in terms of recognition, the self-suffers and affects the society. In an interview Datttani explores the crucial issue of homosexuals in our society to be discussed –

“ If we look at the statistics of gay population in any given society, even if you look at it as a conservative five per cent (people put it ten, but if you take it five per cent), with a population of850 million , we are talking about 50 million people , and I think it’s a real invisible issue… I think it’s there , and very much a part of my society , it happens to be there.” (Erin M, Bee 24-25)

The next major thematic thrust of Dattani is to foreground Hindu-Muslim tussle in his Sahitya Akademi Award winning play ‘Final Solutions’. It examines the so called liberal attitude towards communalism. The well-known stage director Alyque Padamsee muses-

“Can we shake of our prejudices or are they in our psyche like our genes? Will we ever be free or ever locked in combat… Arabs against Jews, Whites against Blacks, Hindus against Muslims? Are there any final solutions?” (Collected Plays Vol. 1)

This is basically the target of Mahesh Dattani in ‘Final Solutions’ to figure out. The play opens up two boys Javed and Babban , running away from a mob that is out to kill them and they seek shelter in the house of  Ramnik Gandhi , seemingly liberal minded and the presence of these boys trigger off memories for the matriarch, the older woman in the house , Hardika ( known as Daksha before marriage) , the grandmother of Gandhis is seen reading excerpts from her diary . the period is late 1940s. The play deals with past and present with the presence of Daksha on the stage as young girl and the old lady. As soon as does Daksha put her diary away, Hardika appears commenting that things have not changed much since the British left. In the beginning there was rejoice among the people when India was declared independent nation but shortly it was realized that this freedom came with a cost of intricate problems which had been left behind by the Britishers. Daksha pinpoints-

“My father had fought for that hour. And we were happy when it came he said he was happy we were rid of the British. He also said something I did not understand then. He before leaving they had let loose the dogs … I knew they were thinking the same of us.”(167)

Daksha’s speech implies the seed of eternal hatred between the Hindus and the Muslims, had been sown by the Britishers.

Thereafter the chorus narrates how a procession carrying the idols of Hindu gods has been attacked resulting into destruction, violence and bloodshed. Ramnik , an apparently liberal minded man reveals his sympathy for human beings and not having bias against any caste, colour and creed. But in reality his liberal attitude was due to his guilt conscious for the deeds of his ancestors. He says –

“and we burnt it your husband. My father. They burnt it in the name of communal riots. Because we wanted the shop… I don’t think I’ll be able to step into that shop again… when these boys came I thought I would…”(226)

However his wife is stubborn in her religious outlook, she has her fears of getting things contaminated due to the arrival of  Javed and Babban ( Bobby) in her house. She camouflages her feeling while commenting-

“please try to understand . we have nothing against you. It is only that , we have our ways and customs … we respect your religion and we wish you well … only the ways to God are many.”(209)

This speech is the mouthpiece of dramatist showing his own take on religious tolerance. Even the Muslim boys have their own sufferings. They have often been maltreated for they belong to specific religion. Javed  pangs in anger: “we all watched as the man came out with a cloth in his hands. He wiped the letter before picking it up.”(200)

Mahesh Dattani objectively portrays the psyche of Muslims under such circumstances explaining that they do suffer from a sense of insecurity as the following dialogue of Javed and Ramnik reveals:

Javed           :  it must feel good.
Ramnik        :  what?
Javed           :  being the majority?
Ramnik        :  yes I never thought about it .
Javed           :  about feeling good that you are the majority.
Ramnik        :  no, about being the majority’
Javed           :  but, sir it is in your every move. You must know. You can offer milk to us. You can have an angry mob outside your house. You can play the civilized Host. Because you know you have peace hidden under your armpit. (192)

The playwright sums up that these personal prejudices are the root cause of communal hatred and discord. One must have tolerant attitude to overcome this problem. Smita , the daughter of Aruna and Ramnik, a free-spirited bird is attempted to draw her mind towards religion by her mother. She protests:

“don’t!  please, mummy, don’t try so hard! You are breaking me .ever since I was small , you have been at me to go to temple … may be I should have told you earlier, but I am telling you now. I can’t bear it!” (213)

Through this play Mahesh Dattani succeeds in persuading the readers /audience to examine their individual and collective consciousness raising several pertinent questions. Are we really the liberal minded people that we project? Or do we blindly follow the pre-determined laws rather prejudices of family and society at large.

Hence Dattani as a contemporary playwright investigates about socio-cultural prejudices making his plays thought provoking and introspective because he deals with that strata of society , that is facing identity crisis  , feeling isolated and marginalized. He takes up fearlessly for the welfare of human beings whatever has been pushed under the rug or neglected . the themes of his plays are not confined to a society or a country but they are universal in appeal because his themes draw attention of the audience instantly as whatever he writes he is concerned for humanity at large. Since his themes are universal they cross all social and linguistic barriers eliciting emotional and intellectual response from the audience.   

End Notes

Ayyar,Raj, “Yaraana : Gay writings from India”, Book review , online available at

Ayyar ,Raj, “Mahesh Dattani Gay Cinema Comes of Age” 2004.

Dattani,Mahesh,Collected Plays Vol 1,Penguin book,New Delhi,2000.

Dattani,Mahesh, collected Plays Vol 2, Penguin Book, New Delhi,2005.

Gupt, Bharat,” Dramatic Concepts:Greek and Indian, A Study of Poetics and Natyashastra”, D.K. Printworld, New Delhi,1994,p.86.

Mee, ErinB.,”Mahesh Dattani:Invisible Issues”,Performing Art Journal,1997,p.24-25.

Mee,Erin B,”Mahesh Dattani’s Plays Critical Perspective” .ed. Angelie Multani,Pencraft International,New delhi,2007,p.55.

McRae,John,.ed.”We Live On The Flicker:Reflection in Time on The Plays of Mahesh Dattani”, New Delhi,Pencraft International,2007,p.65.

Mohanty,Sachidanand,The Plays of Mahesh Dattani: A Critical Response,ed, R.K. Dhawan and Tanu Pant.New Delhi,Prestige Books,2005,p.171.

Nair,Anita,”Mahesh Dattani:A Profile”,online available at

Padamsee,Alyque,”A Note on the Play” in Mahesh Dattani, Final Solutions, Collected Plays,New Delhi:Penguin India,2000.

Pant,Tanu.ed.”Mahesh Dattani:The Face of Indian Drama”, New Delhi:Prestige Books,2005,p.32-33.

Shakespeare,William,”As You Like It”, Act 2, Scene 7.

Subramanyam,Lakshmi,ed,”Muffled Voices:Women in Modern Indian Theatre”,New Delhi:Shakti,2002,p.134.

Santham,Anita, online available at