Tribute to Kasturba Theatre

Salute to Kasturba on stage

A scene from the play ‘Kasturba’

A scene from the play ‘Kasturba’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

The play pays tribute to this inspiring personality

A few years ago R K Paliwal, director-general, department of Income Tax, discovered an unsung hero of the freedom struggle — Kasturba Gandhi, wife of the Mahatma. “Salute to Kasturba,” he says. His play on Kasturba, to be staged by Qadir Ali Baig Foundation, will unravel unknown facets of this inspiring personality. Directed by Mohd Ali Baig and featuring artistes Rashmi Seth (as Kasturba) and Vijay Prasad (as Mahatma Gandhi), the play focuses on the period when the duo was confined at the Aga Khan Palace in Poona.

R K Paliwal

R K Paliwal   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Kasturba was not just the wife of Mahatma Gandhi, she also played an active role in freedom struggle. “Mahatma Gandhi was at the forefront and she preferred to stay in the background,” shares Paliwal, drawing parallels of her life with a tree in a jungle. “Vat vruksh chaya ke neeche, bahut se pedon ki taraf dhyan nahin jaata (In the shadow of a banyan tree, you do not pay attention to many other trees). They may be small but are significant.”

Hailing from Muzaffarnagar in western Uttar Pradesh, Paliwal pays tribute to this extraordinary personality. “Once Gandhi had mentioned that he learnt satyagraha from his wife Kasturba, who was also the caretaker of their ashrams. She knew the food habits of guests visiting them; she knew that Rajaji preferred coffee over tea and Nehru was fond of tea. During Gandhi’s struggle in south Africa, it was Kasturba who first went to jail,” he says.

Paliwal dwelled deep into Gandhian philosophies when he wrote for Shabdyog, a Hindi magazine which released a special issue on Swarajya Hind (Mahatma Gandhi’s book) during its centenary celebrations. “Kasturba was not just a companion but worked with Gandhi at every step for the freedom struggle; one cannot visualise Mahatma Gandhi without her.”

A scene from the play ‘Kasturba’

A scene from the play ‘Kasturba’   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Set in the background of Quit India Movement in 1942, the play recreates their life in jail. “The confinement at Aga Khan Palace was the only time in their life when they spent two years together during the freedom movement. The couple used this solitude as an opportunity to discuss issues in their lives,” he shares. The Gandhis had four sons and their eldest son Harilal’s errant behaviour was a concern. “While Mahatma Gandhi attributed Harilal’s behaviour to destiny, Kasturba, who was deeply attached to the elder son tried to reform him,” he says.

The play ends with Kasturba’s death in jail. “It was a sad end to the great lady whose contribution is not known by many,” he saysadding the intent is to focus on her role in the freedom struggle. The play coincides with Independence Day celebrations and it is also significant to note that this is the 150th year of commemoration of Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi’s birth anniversary by UNESCO and the Government of India.

Paliwal, who has also written 12 books, is happy that two theatre groups from Delhi and Mumbai have already staged the play. “Qadir Ali Baig Foundation is the third group and I am sure theatre lovers in Hyderabad will discover new facets of this strong lady.”

(Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation presents ‘Kasturba’ on August 16 and 17 at 7 pm at Radisson Blu Plaza Hyderabad, Banjara Hills.

Tickets available on www.bookmyshow.com.)

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 1:07:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/one-cannot-visualise-mahatma-gandhi-without-kasturba-says-rk-paliwal-writer-of-the-play-kasturba/article29109331.ece

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