The Tiger Comes to Town emerged from collaboration among a government body, an academic institution and civil society. The day-long event, to be held over two days, shows sides to Tipu Sultan that are mostly unknown

The Bangalore fort, though located in the heart of the city, is often overlooked. A unique project The Tiger Comes to Town developed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), Centre for Public History, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology and civil society, to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of ASI, is an important step towards developing an accurate perspective on Bangalore’s history.

Aliyeh Rizvi, curator at Centre for Public History and director of the late Dina Mehta’s Tiger! Tiger!, speaks of the hard work that was put in by everyone to make this project a success. “The project is an example of how various organisations, institutions and our sponsor Ganjam partnered on the history of the Bangalore fort.”

The Tiger Comes To Town includes, besides the staging of Tiger! Tiger!, a soundscape, a shadow play of puppets and an info-walk. For the info-walk, information panels will be displayed at various parts of the fort. The soundscape, developed by the students of Srishti, is an oral history project. “For this, the students mapped the area, identified the people and recorded the interviews. “One can step into the guard room and listen to oral history interviews in English, Urdu and Kannada, of local communities, from shopkeepers, people from the Dargah to others, of their experiences in the area,” says Aliyeh. “The project justifies the larger aim that if you create a context to the past and provide ways to engage with a historical area, only then will it have meaning.”

The shadow puppet play, facilitated by Meena Sankar and Nikita Jain, depicts the war fought for Bangalore between Tipu Sultan and Lord Cornwallis in 1791. It will be performed at half-hour intervals.

The Centre for Public History, Srishti, invited Bangalore Little Theatre to stage Tiger! Tiger! “The actors had to not just rehearse, but they had to immerse themselves in historical research. They went on an The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage fort walk and went on a field trip to Seringapatnam, where they observed how they respond to the space and historical material as actors.” The play will be performed against the backdrop of the fort, with minimal sets. “The performance space is overwhelming because the actors perform characters who could have actually walked in this space.”

The most valuable truth Aliyeh realised was that Bangaloreans still cares for Bangalore. “The problem is how we teach history; most often it is not given a contemporary context. This project helped develop a sense of shared history -- a sense of unity and overall ownership of the city.”

Tipu has not often been portrayed accurately. He has been compared to his father Hyder Ali and judged primarily in terms of his statesmanship.

There are, however, admirable sides to Tipu, as Aliyeh observes. “Few know about the origins of Mysore silk and Channapatna toys and that Lalbagh was completed by Tipu. Tipu did what he had to on an administrative and political level, but the point is not whether he was a good or bad king. At the end of the day we need to inculcate an objective, not an emotional viewpoint.”

The Tiger Comes to Town will be held between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Bangalore Fort, K.R. Road, near Vani Vilas Hospital. Entry is free. For details, call 41114791. Tiger! Tiger! will premiere at the Bangalore Fort, and later performed in auditoriums towards the end of January.

“This project helped develop a sense of shared history. It gave a sense of unity and overall ownership of the city.”