Different Millennia: Three Plays
Author: Vithal Rajan
Year of Publication: 2009
Price: HB Rs 300, FB Rs 200
HB 978-81-8157-903-4 (9788181579034)
FB 978-81-8157-904-1 (9788181579041)
About the Author:
Vithal Rajan holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. He emigrated from India to Canada in the mid 1960’s and he worked for several years as Information Officer for Canadian Industries Ltd. (I.C.I.) in Montreal. Following the suspension of civil liberties in India by former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, Dr. Rajan felt impelled to return to India. He settled down in Hyderabad and has worked in an honorary capacity with several civil society organizations, especially with dalit communities of acutely marginalized women. He was the founder volunteer chair of the Deccan Development Society, which promotes integrated rural development in the Deccan plateau, literary and community health programmes and ecological agriculture. He has instituted special scholarships for graduate students at the Ramanujan Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics at the University of Madras and for girls at Vindyodaya High School Madras. In 2006 he was made an Officer, of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest national honour, for service to Canada and to humanity at large. The following year he was invited to be founder Counsellor of the World Future Council at its Inaugural Congress in Hamburg.Dr. Rajan has written extensively on academic and development-related issues and has recently taken to writing novels, short stories and plays, all of which have been published by Writers Workshop, India. His novels, Holmes of the Raj and The Legend of Ramulamma, were published in 2006 and 2007 respectively. His two plays, The Anarkali Diary and Varadachary’s Annotated Chess Masterpieces (Incomplete), stories for children, “Not So!” Stories for Older Children, and a collection of short stories, Sharmaji, Padmashree, were all published in 2006.
In his introduction to the book, Dr. Rajan writes:
“The first play: “The Spartan Conspiracy”, a comedy, denies that the seduction of Helen by Paris was the real cause of the Trojan war. Rather, the play suggests that the desire to corner the market in oil — of the edible kind — and break Troy’s control over the shipping lanes forced the Greeks to launch a ‘colonial-type’ invasion of the East.
The second play: “Rings of Remembrance”, is situated in early fifth-century Ujjayini, the night the curtain goes up on Kalidasa’s Shakuntala. The renowned Alexandrian woman philosopher, Hypatia, is said to have been torn to pieces by Christian mobs incensed by her blasphemy. In any case, she was never seen again, and some churchmen argued that she ran away. The play believes she was rescued by Arabs from fundamentalist Christians and brought to Ujjayini, the Western Capital of the Gupta Empire.
In it we find that the ‘Bodhidharma’ who took Buddhism to China was an untouchable, not a prince as believed in legend, that war is war in any period, that many of the ills of that time have come down to us in the present. It is a play within a play about a play as all life is.
The third play: “Sherlock Holmes and The Pirates of the Horn”, takes our beloved sleuth into a conspiracy — no, a collusion of interests shall we say — at the highest level to convince lesser powers that the empire and its soldiers are their only protection in far-flung corners of the world.
To me, an examination of historical events explains the confused present, and clears the smokescreens ably laid by the powerful to win the acquiescence of their publics. The plays are light-hearted attempts to dispel the fog around us at present and bring a chuckle to the viewer.”
General Introduction to the Plays / 9
The Spartan Conspiracy / 13
The Rings of Remembrance / 47
Sherlock Holmes and the Pirates of the Horn / 147