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Director’s Note (Habib Tanvir) :-

Mudra Rakshas, written in the 4th or the 5th century AD, is a political play towering in its uniqueness in this genre f world drama. Its poetry lies in its plot. An extraordinarily intelligent plot defines its extremely complex structure. Yet its concentrated aim is simple. It shoots forth like an arrow piercing the entire storyline right through. That single aim is to disarm an enemy at war and win him over as a friend without a blow. Nothing could be more challenging as a theme for a writer. Yet the playwright makes its treatment an all absorbing experience. He keeps up the tempo of warfare, thick and intrigue and through an atmosphere of the most devious stratagems achieves his object of total peace. We are riveted by Chanakaya’s mind – in other words by Vishakhadatta’s mind – which brings about a complete rout of Rakshas, the enemy of Chandragupta Maurya, at the same time ennobling us all by not only bringing round that same enemy to the opposite camp as an ally, but also elevating him as a man of great integrity, a statesman of the highest order, and a minister desirable to the extreme for the ablest king in the world. In the end, we marvel at its dramatic power, which leaves us enthralled.

As a director, it was my task to impart to impart this experience, to the extent possible, in visual terms to the audience with lucidity and simplicity. Hence the Poorvarang, and the enactment of events, only verbally described in the text. Hence also the Yavanika, which I had first used some thirty five years ago in the production of this same play in English in P. Lal’s version. Likewise there are other devises of entries and exits, which all helped in the demolition of the three Aristotlean Unities of Time, Space and Action – only preserving the harmony named by Bharat Muni, the Rasa.

The human values inherent in this predominantly political play are obvious. We have tried to project these. The sharp contemporaneity of the theme is equally manifest, or else how shall we call it a classic? It has been our concern and endeavour to hint at these subtle undertones as well.