Play: Raastey, 1989
Written by: Govind Purushottam Deshpande
“What one is trying to say is that one has to reject the notion of history as a grand, well-defined glory…. [T]his fresh look at history amounts to coming to terms with one’s own surroundings, with one’s own errors and mistakes, because someone like me has come through very different kinds of ideological and political positions, and been tormented in the process.”
— G.P. Deshpande in an interview with Samik Bandyopadhyay for the Seagull Theatre Quarterly (Issue 11, September 1996)
‘Raastey’, originally written in Marathi by Govind Purushottam Deshpande was published in 1989. The ideological differences between the three friends — Gangadhar, Gokhale, and Kachubhai — presented through dialectics form the crux of the play. Gangadhar is a firm believer in Marxist ideology, while Gokhale is a nationalist and Kichubai tries to find a balance between pragmatism and religion. The plot also revolves around Durga, Gangadhar’s Marxist daughter, who is determined to pave her own path in an underground Left organization, and ‘Raastey’ traces her rebellion and disillusionment.
The play was written during a time of immense socio-political upheaval when global politics witnessed the dissolution of the Soviet Union (1988-1991) and an unfolding of several military conflicts leading to the emergence of the United States as the sole superpower. The collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the global oil shock during the First Gulf War were instrumental in triggering the massive Indian Economic Crisis of 1991, where India found itself in a twin deficit and its low reserves led to the devaluation of the currency. This led to economic liberalization. Macroeconomic reforms caused Naxalite-Maoist insurgencies to resurface with fragmented Naxalite groups beginning dialogues to restructure the movement. Pervasive corruption charges against the ruling government resulted in political uncertainties and increased apprehensions and discontentment around the political system finding an outlet in religious fundamentalism. It is against this backdrop of such political, social, economic, and cultural instability that ‘Raastey’ explores the anxieties of three young friends, who hold dissimilar political and ideological beliefs. The play was performed by NSD Repertory Company under the direction of Satyadev Dubey in 1995 and later performed by the Asmita Theatre Group, Delhi in 2012.Raaste
Brochure, ‘Raaste’ , 1995. Image Courtesy – Anand Gupt Collection/ Alkazi Theatre Archives