Set in eastern UP of the late 1950s, and emerging from a period when the nation was newly independent, Shrilal Shukla's Raag Darbari brings to the fore the gap that exists- that between the grand Nehruvian vision of a developing India and the miserable, ‘cheekat’ India of the villages which the corrupt machinations of rural politics feed off. The three institutions- cooperative union, gaaon panchayat and educational body, which are key to rural development, are gradually in a shambles at the hands of Vaidyaji, the local leader in the guise of an ayurvedic doctor. It is from his darbar that a dissonant raag arises, which sardonically echoes the failure of all bids to overthrow institutionalised corruption and all possibilities for growth. The narrative is a bildungsroman of Rangana, the urban, educated, female figure which the reader may identify with, who visits the village of Shivpalganj to recover from an illness. What ensues is her growing disillusionment with the rural world that she had believed to be a model of peace, health and simplicity. The novel ends in Rangana’s mounting desire to escape from Shivpalganj, a powerful comment on how education ironically places the educated elite at the greatest distance from issues of national import.


Directed by Amitesh Grover | Dramaturgy by Sarah Mariam | Space Design by Asim Waqif | Set & Costume by Vidisha Purohit | Lights Design by Rajesh Singh | Publicity Design by Vishwajyoti Ghosh | Music Composition by Silpi Dutt

Premiered at Bahumukh Auditorium, Delhi. Supported by National School of Drama, India.