Alkazi Theatre Archives

Play: Tirichh, 1990
Written by: Uday Prakash, Directed by: Prasanna, Ektara Theatre

The 1980s in India saw the introduction of advanced technology in the industry, the growth of media, and the beginning of liberalization of the economy that made investments by foreign firms easier in the Indian market. In the words of Thomas Blom Hansen, it was the time of “foreign technology fetishism”, an obsession with the stereotyped symbols of modernity: Japanese efficiency, American ingenuity, German solidity, French sophistication, and Italian taste (Thomas Blom Hansen, The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India, 1999, 240). An attitudinal shift on the part of the central government favoring private businesses crumpled the rhetoric of socialism and pro-poor policies started to fade away. This exposure to new technologies and global information was also reflected in the psyche of people: the dilemma of staying with the earlier attitude and policies or moving forward together with the liberalization process.

‘Tirichh’, a Hindi story by Uday Prakash was adapted into a play by Prasanna. The play was performed by the Ektara theatre group under Prasanna’s direction at a Theatre Samaroh organized by the Sahitya Kala Parishad at Shri Ram Centre, New Delhi between March 16-22, 1990. 

The play can be described as a postmodern tragedy and an example of magic realism showing an obsessive and gruelling account of the cruelty of the city. In the play, an old man who always feared life in the city visits a metropolis. In the city, he encounters many unfortunate and traumatic incidents – he is beaten up, detained at the police station, and subsequently found dead in a shop. The inhabitants of the victim’s village are convinced that anybody poisoned by a tirichh (a kind of poisonous and magical lizard) will die within twenty-four hours. The son believes that his father was bitten by the same tirichh that used to appear in his nightmares. The entire episode of the old man’s encounter with the cityscape is narrated by his son who eventually traces his father’s journey.

Tirichh, 1990

Source: Brochure, ‘Tirich’, March 20, 1990. Image Courtesy – Anand Gupt Collection/ Alkazi Theatre Archives

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