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Shah Jahan


Sat 22 Nov 2014, 7:00pm–10:00pm

Where: The Independent Theatre, 269 Miller Street, North Sydney, New South Wales

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • General Admission: $28.00 ($25.00 + $3.00 fees)
  • Additional fees may apply

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Listed by: surjagupta

A classic operatic play depicting the last days of the great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Dwijendralal Roy (1863-1913) was a distinguished modern Bengali playwright and poet who introduced new trends into Bengali drama. He popularised the genre of the light historical play through such pieces as Nurjahan (1907), Mewar Patan (1908) and Shah Jahan (1910). Whether dealing with puranic or historical themes, he made liberal use of the dramatic medium to propagate such modern notions as the rights of the individual, equality of women and nationalism. In Shah Jahan he has successfully evoked a sense of the tragic by depicting the last few years of the life of the old emperor. The note of melancholy in the play is all pervasive.

Shah Jahan lies sick in his castle fortress in Agra. He hears from Dara, his eldest son, of the revolt of his other sons – Suja and Morad against him. Aurangzeb, his deceitful son helps Morad from the Deccan. Dara wants to subdue the revolt, but Shah Jahan wants to forgive his sons. Jahanara – the daughter of Shah Jahan, advises Dara to pacify the revolt and so Shah Jahan ultimately orders Dara to subdue the revolt.

Aurangzeb visits Morad in his camp on the Narmada and persuades him to revolt. Meanwhile – Jasawanta Singha – the king of Jodhpur – has been skilfully won over by Aurangzeb. At the camp of Kashi, Piyara tells Shuja – her husband, to stay away from the war. But suddenly the sounds of war trumpets are heard. Sulaiman – Dara’s son and Jaysingha – king of Jaipur, attack the camp. Suja is defeated but escapes.

Jasawanta Singha, after his defeat comes to the castle of Jodhpur, but he is not allowed by Mahamaya – his wife – to enter as he bears the ignominy of defeat. Aurangzeb is perturbed when he hears of Dara’s approach with a large army. Joined by Shaista Khan, Aurangzeb moves to Agra. Dara defeated in war, flees near the Doab in Punjab. At the castle fortress of Agra both Shah Jahan and Jahanara wait for Aurangzeb. Mohammed – Aurangzeb’s son – informs Shah Jahan that he is a prisoner in his own castle. The old emperor appeals to Mohammed to free him. He offers Mohammed his crown, but Mohammed refuses it. Jahanara thinks of revenge.

Aurangzeb wants Morad, who is a reckless drunkard, to go astray. Aurangzeb believes that it is with God’s will that he has ascended the throne. Shah Jahan is lonely and sad in the castle fortress. Only Jahanara sympathises with him. In the desert of Rajasthan, Dara wanders hungry and thirsty. He thinks of killing himself. Suja is restless at the fort of Mungher. Jasawanta Singha refuses to help Aurangzeb’s soldiers in their fight against Suja. Jasawanta questions Aurangzeb occupying the throne while Shah Jahan is still alive. But Aurangzeb pacifies the courtiers by saying that after establishing peace in the kingdom he will go to Mecca.

Shah Jahan anxiously fears Dara’s fall. Dara is helped by Sahajanabad of Gujarat. Aurangzeb wins Jasawanta’s support by giving him Gurjar. Mohammed leaves his father. Suja is driven out. Dara seeks refuge under Jiyan Ali, who imprisons him treacherously and takes him to Aurangzeb. Shah Jahan anticipates helplessly the impending fall of Suja, Morad and Dara. Aurangzeb declares a death penalty on Dara and orders Jiyan Ali to execute it. Dara is killed and his severed head is presented by Jiyan Ali to Aurangzeb. Morad and Mohammed are also now captives of Aurangzeb. Suja and Piyara decide to die. Shah Jahan is alternately sane and insane. Morad is also ordered to die.

At last Aurangzeb feels the qualms of conscience. He kneels down before Shah Jahan, confesses his sins and asks his forgiveness. Shah Jahan forgives him and requests Jahanara also to forgive him. Against her own will but to please her father Jahanara forgives Aurangzeb. But Jaharat – Dara’s daughter – curses Aurangzeb, her father’s slayer.