Tughlaq by Girish Karnad

Play captures the court intrigue and societal impact of changes wrought by Tughlaq. References the supposed murder of his father by the rampaging elephant and wooden podium that fell on him. It mentioned the change in capital from Delhi to Daulatabad and then the decision to move back. It speaks of the change from silver coinage to copper coinage and the problems the treasury faced in eliminating counterfeit coins; and, discusses some of the intrigue and difficulty in dealing with surrounding sultanates.

  • Three Plays“, 1994, Oxford University Press
  • Karnad’s second play that was an immediate success on stage. First produced in Kannada in 1965.
  • It is a play of the 1960s and thought to reflect the political mood of disillusionment that followed the Nehru era of idealism in the country.
  • Period set in 1327 CE
  • 13 scenes
  • Extracts by U.R. Anantha ¬†Murthy:

“What struck me about Tughlaq’s history was that it was contemporary. The fact that here was the most idealistic, most intelligent king ever to come on throne at Delhi..and one of its greatest failures. Within 20 years tremendously capable man had gone to pieces. That was due to perhaps his idealism, shortcomings within him such as impatience, cruelty, and feeling that he had the only correct answer.” [pg. 143]

”¬†Aspects considered by critics include: symbolism of game of chess; theme of disguise; ironic success of Aziz; dualism of the man and hero in Tughlaq; how the play relates the character of Tughlaq to philosophical questions on the nature of man.” [pg. 144]

“External action and inner drama within the man” [pg. 144]

“play is structure on opposites – ideal and the real – divine aspiration and deft intrigue” [pg. 145]