The inner life of Tipu Sultan

A scene from the play The Dreams of Tipu Sultan. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It is that time of the year again when laughter, tears, history, and fantasy return to the city. Keep this weekend free to be part of the The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest.

Like last year we have some of the best productions and best drama groups to give you some excellent entertainment. Launched in 2005 in Chennai, The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest has since grown to become a calendar event across five cities, with shows in Hyderabad, Bangaluru and Coimbatore, Kochi, as well.

The enthusiasm and eagerness with which audiences have received the Theatre Fest encouraged us to launch The MetroPlus Playwright Award in 2008 with a prize of Rs. 1 lakh for the best English language script. We are pleased to see many of these scripts coming back to the Fest as full-fledged performances.

Read on to find out a little more about The Dreams of Tipu Sultan

“To live a day like a tiger is far more precious than living a hundred years like a jackal,” said Tipu Sultan, the fierce warrior-king, known as the Tiger of Mysore.

Jagriti of Bangalore recreates the last days of this fabled ruler through the eyes of an Indian court historian, Mir Hussain Ali Khan Kirmani (played by Jagdish Raja), and a British Oriental scholar, Colin Mackenzie (Sanjay Iyer). The play (Tippuvina Kanasugalu in Kannada) is written by Girish Karnad, Jnanpith Award winner and one of India’s most significant playwrights. The personality of Tipu Sultan has dominated the country’s imagination for over two centuries. His implacable enmity with the British and his bravery on the battlefield are legendary; he was one of the few Indian kings to defeat British armies.

However, rather than being a mere historical record, the play is much more; it is a glimpse into the ruler’s inner life. It uses the dream vision device, through a diary Tipu actually maintained of his dreams, to paint a personality much larger than just a warrior.

We see Tipu as political visionary, idealist, scientist and dreamer. Arundhati Raja as director is able to pull this off with a fine touch.

Playing on August 4, at 7:15 pm, Kerala Fine Arts Hall

Citizen’s Review

The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest begins tomorrow, on Friday August 3 at the Kerala Fine Arts Hall at 7.15 p.m. The reviews of the plays will not be written by us.

As you did last year, you will write the reviews. If you have watched the show and want the opportunity to express your views in print, please email us a short review between 50 and 150 words by noon the next day. A selection of Citizen Reviews will be published in MetroPlus.

Mail them to along with your full name, address and telephone number. Letters with fictitious names, addresses and phone numbers will NOT be published.

Highlighted reviews win a special prize: Dinner for two at Hotel Dream Cochin.

Hurry up with your reviews!



By interpreting Tipu’s dreams, your play looks at the inner life of a man famous as a warrior. What new facets of Tipu as politician or ordinary citizen does the play reveal?

In the play, we see Tipu not only as the warrior we all know him as, but also as the statesman, the innovator, husband and father. He pioneered rocketry weapons, began the Channapatna toy industry, established the silk industry, brought about innovative ideas in taxation and statesmanship.

Tipu’s main dream was to oust the British from India. He saw that the only way to do this was to form a united front of the Marathas, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and all the other princely states. But of course, in this he was unsuccessful, everyone preferring to follow their own path for their own personal gain.

Girish Karnad wrote this play originally for BBC radio. In that sense, it has a lack of movement that can hamstring a stage performance. How has Jagriti tackled this issue?

Seen through the eyes of Hussain Ali Kirmani, the court historian and Colonel Colin Mackenzie, his employer; the story moves from one scene to another. The challenge was to design the production so that it flowed seamlessly without it becoming episodic, with one blackout after another.

I have endeavoured to achieve this with actors moving in and out with the help of evocative music and sound effects, and a lighting plot that flows from one scene to the next, with a blackout only when I thought it was needed dramatically.

Have you tried to inject contemporary references into the production, or is it simply a powerful story well told?

It is actually just that - a powerful story well told.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 4:33:54 PM |

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