A queen’s story

This weekend watch the life of Rani Laxmi Bai unfold on stage

Updated - October 18, 2016 12:47 pm IST

Published - March 24, 2016 03:14 pm IST - Chennai

A still from Gallantly Fought the Queen Photo: Special Arrangement

A still from Gallantly Fought the Queen Photo: Special Arrangement

“Some historians say Rani Laxmi Bai was 33-years-old. Others say she was 22 and of course, that sounds more gallant,” says V. Balakrishnan, founder and artistic director of Theatre Nisha. His play, Gallantly Fought the Queen , which premieres in the city this weekend, chronicles her story, which is one of a young widow and a regent queen who rises to command many men in battle. She was one of the leading warriors of the First War of Indian Independence in 1857, and also, a celebrated character in history. Inspired by Mahasweta Devi’s book, The Queen of Jhansi and D.V. Tamhankar’s The Ranee of Jhansi , the play endeavours to stick to facts and historical references. “We start the play with the Doctrine of Lapse being imposed on her kingdom. There’s a very famous line in history, where she is supposed to have said, ‘ Meri Jhansi nahi dungi’ (I will not part with my Jhansi). For a woman of her stature, who had never been bold, to have said something like that, sets the tone for the next two years of her life.”

With music by Srivaralaxmi ‘Maya’ and percussion by Vishwa Bharath, the play is juxtaposed with Subhadra Kumari Chauhan’s famous poem Jhansi Ki Rani . “This play has all elements of theatre: storytelling, live singing, dancing and martial arts. All that should be part of an actor’s repertoire, Meera Sitaraman will be exhibiting on stage.”

The play, which is largely in English, interspersed with a little Hindi, will be staged at Alliance Francaise on March 26 and 27 (3 p.m. and 7 p.m.). Tickets are priced at Rs. 200 (Rs. 100 for schools) and available on eventjini.com. For details, call 96771 72897.

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