Dramatic Technique Used in The Play Tughlaq

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      A great evidence of Kamad’s dramatic achievement in Tughlaq is its immediate success and its secret lies in the techniques employed by the playwright. Tughlaq is a play of many splendid merits. It is immensely serious and also entertaining. It is the result of a magnificent effort of both intellectual energy and poetic imagination. It is full of pathos and sympathy. In order to produce such effects in the theatre Kamad, very skilfully employed various devices like spectacle, quick shift of scenes, blackout, poetic elements, disguise, irony, symbolism and so on.

      An eminent critic P. Bayapa Reddy has made an admirable study on this aspect of Kamad’s dramatic genius. Reddy observes:

Tughlaq experiments with a variety of theatrical techniques to create visual and auditory images, thereby producing the desired dramatic effect on the stage. By employing a variety of theatrical devices—spectacle, quick shift of scenes, blackout — he tries to control the movement of the play and its impact on the audience.

      This is true. The playwright has designed special costumes for Muhammad Tughlaq and other characters, keeping in view that they belong to the 14th century India and Muhammad was the Sultan, and also a great scholar. The ‘visual aspects of production’ on the stage are remarkably effective, and natural. Speaking about ‘spectacle’ in Tughlaq at the time of performance, Bayapa Reddy says:

Spectacle refers to all the visual aspects of production, scenery, costume, make-up and the business and the movement of the actor.....the very appearance of Tughlaq in his striking costume adds a lot to the element of spectacle in the play.

      Kamad has used another technique of poetic sensibility. He endows the protagonist with rich poetic imagination. Muhammad, so often, becomes lyrical in his speeches in order to be convincing, fair, just and thereby he tries to win sympathy and support of his people so that they should ‘understand’ his visionary plans. For instance, Muhammad addresses his people:

My beloved people, you have heard the judgement of the Kazi and seen for yourselves how justice works in my kingdom — without any consideration of might or weakness, religion or creed, May this moment burn bright and light up our path towards greater justice, equality, progress, and peace — not just peace but a purposeful life.

      Muhammad at times uses his poetic quality to move the audience emotionally, to exploit their sentiments:

Come, my people, I am waiting: for you. Confide in me your worries. Let me share your joys. Let’s laugh and cry together and then, let’s pray. Lets’s pray till our bodies melt and flow and our blood turns into air.

      And later, even when he is deeply anguished and frustrated to think of his failures that he couldn’t translate his dreams and ideals into reality Muhammad displays his poetic sensibility. His pathetic words:

I wanted to make for myself an image of Sadi’s poems. I wanted every rose in it (rose garden) to be a poem.

Disguise and Mistaken Identity

      Disguise is another very effective theatrical device used by Kamad who was deeply influenced by Shakespeare. Even Shakespeare exploited disguise to make his comedies effective. Although for Shakespeare, it was initially a necessity as women were not allowed to play on stage, however, it became naturally a technique as it gave rise to several dramatic effects: mistaken identity, dramatic irony, humour, suspense and above all complications in the plot. However, Kamad has used it deliberately for comic effects.

      It is thrilling to watch the role of Aziz (a dhobi) in the guise of a brahmin, Vishnu Prasad in the very opening scene and later as a saint, Ghiyas-ud-din Abbasid. The play becomes highly amusing and full of ironical situations, suspense, instances of mistaken identity and thus disguise plays and important role in providing dramatic or comic relief after the scenes of horror.

      The sub-plot in Tughlaq centres round Aziz and Aazam who provide plenty of fun and laughter, but at the same time their purpose is to satirize the liberal policies of the Sultan. Aziz is gifted with an unfailing sense of humour, and one is thrilled to see how he deceives even the eyes of Muhammad through his numerous disguises.

      Disguise serves another purpose of Girish Kamad. The playwright is able to reflect the character of Muhammad Tughlaq through the disguise of Aziz and Aazam. Aziz in disguise and his friend Aazam (a pickpocket in disguise) act in the same manner as the Sultan does. Muhammad tries to achieve his goal, translate his vision into reality by foul means. He doesn’t hesitate to hide his plans and kill others who oppose him or come in his way. Similar effort is made by Aziz. He too is crafty like his master. He does the same in the sub-plot what is done by the Sultan in the main plot. Aziz, too, like the Sultan aims at becoming even greater than the Sultan by murdering Ghiyas-ud-din Abbasid. He along with Aazam reaches the court disguised as the saint. What an amusing situation of dramatic irony! Muhammad bqws to him. And Aziz blesses the Sultan, accompanied by Barani, “May Heaven guide your Majesty!” This scene is highly ironical and amusing and keeps the audience in suspense as to what follows next. Thanks to disguise used as a technique by Karnad in a masterly fashion, though a Shakespearean teachnique indeed. The Sultan has been blood-thirsty in defending his idealism, so has been Aziz. He has no hesitation in killing even his companion Aazam who tried to leave him alone. Exactly the same is being done by Muhammad. This is how an idealist is turned into a tyrant, but on close examination the fact is revealed that Muhammad’s idealism, too, is a kind of cover, a disguise that hides the ‘real’ Muhammad. His character is a complex one, so is Aziz. Anantha Murthy has made a pertinent analysis:

Both Tughlaq and his enemies appear to be idealists; yet, in the pursuit of the ideal, they perpetrate its opposite. The whole play is structured on these opposites: the ideal and the real, the divine aspiration and the deft intrigue.

      Thus disguise gives rise to several dramatic effects and Aziz under disguise has been successful in reflecting the Sultan’s character. In fact, the entire sub-plot has parodied the main plot. “The episodes of Aziz and Aazam show Kamad’s skill and imagination as they, though are not the part of history, contribute in understanding the character of Tughlaq. Aziz offers a parallel line to the character of Tughlaq.”

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