Friday, April 30, 2004

Indian Ink - Tom Stoppard

Written in the vein of Postmodernist writing, Tom Stoppard's "Indian Ink " - a quietly elegant and moving drama adapted by the British playwright from an earlier radio play and turned into a modest stage hit in London in 1995 - is yet another artistic attempt to make sense of India, where Stoppard spent many years.

Flora Crewe, an unconventional English poet visits India in 1930. Her sometimes scandalous life is the subject of a biographical inquiry more than 50 years later by one of Stoppard's favourite comic targets, a pedantic academic who has a scholarly talent for misreading Flora's life. The play moves in time and space between India in 1930 and Britain in the 1980s (where Flora's sister now lives), as Stoppard introduces the arduous task of deciphering the past and piecing together a life and an era long gone.

Against a backdrop of colonialists whose civil facade masks racial intolerance and fabled maharajas the play has some dramatically convenient juxtapositions. Stoppard sketches a love story between Flora, and Nirad Das, an Indian painter.
The 1980's scenes present Nirad's son Anish Das, who is a part of the Indian Diaspora in England and now considers England as "home" - he comes to visit Flora's sister and as they put together the missing pieces on Flora's life-story, her would-be biogrpaher is shown following a dead-end trail in India. The play cheekily pokes fun of the pedagogic world, while also show-casing one of the most often used themes of post-modernism : diaspora!

Definitely an interesting play to read - it doesn't offer any challenges to the mind, for sure, but it is the kind of a play that I would like to see staged.

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