Abhiyenthararu to stage P Lankesh’s ‘Gunamukha’ on July 6

Abhiyenthararu, an amateur theatre group started by a bunch of engineers will present P Lankesh’s ‘Gunamukha’ play directed by NSD Director B Basavalingaiah on July 6 at 7.00 pm at Kalamandir.

The play will be enacted by the students of National School of Drama (NSD) Bengaluru.

‘Gunamukha’ is written in the historical context of Nadir Shah’s invasion of Delhi in the 17th Century and his subsequent inner struggles between his egoistic ambitions. His cruel and idealistic self that is latent in him till a realised Sufi Hakim awakens it at the end of the play. Keeping Nadir Shah at the centre, the play unfolds the picture of a sickened bureaucracy, which decays the living ambience of a society.

The renowned Persian Emperor Nadir Shah lived for about 60 years (1688 – 1747). In 1739, he defeated the Mughal army at the battle of Karnal in 1740, and captured Delhi. Even before coming to India, through his riots and ravages, Nadir had set a deadly terror among his enemies.

This ‘reputation’ helped him a great deal in building his Iran-Persian empire. Born in an obscure nomadic tribe, he worked as a soldier, and then a regent of an infant king. Finally, situations favoured him in such a way that in 1736 he became a crowned king; and thus, from being an ordinary soldier Nadir rose to become an emperor.

In 1740, when Nadir invaded India, the country was in the grips of the affluent Mughal dynasty; it had a strong army of more than a million soldiers, but Nadir was a seasoned invader; and when it came to warfare tricks and strategies, there was none to beat him in the game. More than the wealth and comfort that he would get after every conquest, it appeared that he was thrilled by the cruelty involved in the war.

The Hakim Alavi Khan, who plays a major Sufi role in this play, helps Nadir step back from the abysmal hell in which he was entrapped. Nadir’s life of strange conquest and failure has been portrayed by Lankesh who says that he was drawn towards his suspicious nature, frank and fortnight attitude, sickness and disease.

The way he surges forth even when strong natural forces and strange human ambiguities push him down to the abysmal depths and finally, towards the manner in which qualities such as truth and deceit affect an egoist like him.

Lankesh owes the character of Alavi Khan to Khushwant Singh’s novel, Delhi, where he devotes a couple of paragraphs on a hakim called Alavi Khan. This prompted Lankesh to read on Nadir and do some odd research for about a year before he came up with this play in 1993.

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