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Alkazi Theatre Archives

Notes from the Archive

July 31, 2020

Hori

Images: Hori directed by Ebrahim Alkazi, NSD, 1967. Image courtesy: Alkazi Theatre Archives

To celebrate the birth anniversary of Munshi Premchand, today the Alkazi Theatre Archives will be looking into the last completed novel by the author, Godaan (The Gift of a Cow) written in 1936. Set in colonial times, Godaan paints a realistic picture of the hardships of a poor peasant couple (Hori and his wife Dhaniya) in northern rural India, who experience the vicious nexus of caste segregation, aggression of semi-feudal economy and rigidities of traditional power structures.

In 1967, Premchand’s novel was adapted as a stage play, ‘Hori’, by theatre director Ebrahim Alkazi and was performed by his students from the National School of Drama in Meghdoot Theatre, Delhi.

‘In presenting a play such as Hori the students erect a village. They shape an environment and see how environment shapes homes, shapes minds…Is this a mere stage set, scenically arranged, to create superficially a realistic effect? Surely more than that: these homes, fields, trees, lanes, well, shop, together inscribe the shape of human relations: establish the contours of village society. How social institutions are formed, how they serve or suppress the individual; the zamindari, caste, panchayat, joint-family, money lending and dowry systems; the treatment of widows; the problems of illiteracy and urbanisation; the conflict between the generations; agricultural methods, animal husbandry-all these need to be studied even more than the … paraphernalia associated with the stage’

-Excerpt from ‘Theatre Education’ by Ebrahim Alkazi.