Mapping the Journey of a Play Through Brochures: Charandas The Thief in London
Habib Tanvir’s magnum opus, ‘Charandas Chor’ (1974) is based on a Rajasthani folk tale. A thief with a conscience, he can’t bring himself to rob the helpless or the poor, but runs rings around the pillars of establishment.
When his guru demands that he give up thieving, Charandas makes four other pledges including that he will never tell a lie. And thus, managing to continue thieving successfully without breaking his word.
By the end of the play, his refusal to tell a lie in defiance of a royal command leads to his being put to death.
Anjum Katyal questions in her book, “Why did Habib insist on the chor sacrificing himself for Truth? He wanted to show how a common man can take the heroic stance of holding unswervingly to his word, his commitment to Truth. The common man is inevitably crushed for daring to challenge, to confront, to refuse, the powers that be, the state.”
-Anjum Katyal, ‘Habib Tanvir: Towards an Inclusive Theatre, Sage Publication, New Delhi, 2012, pg.66.
I. Brochure for Chandas Chor; Riverside Studios, London; 1982/83
Courtesy: Anand Gupt Collection/ Alkazi Theatre Archives.
II. Seagull Theatre Quarterly, Issue 10.
Courtesy: Alkazi Theatre Archives.