India: This city based theatre group is reviving classic Hindi literature


The year was 1958. Prolific Hindi writer Mohan Rakesh had penned down a fictitious story on the mythological character of Kalidas. Ashadh Ka Ek Din was a three-part Hindi drama, where, contrary to the existing norms, Kalidas was not a mystic. He was a common man, living in Kashmir with his lover Mallika, leading an average family life. The play was a realist drama coupled with human emotions including rage, mirth and jealousy.

This refreshing approach to mythology made Kalidas a relatable character for the first time in the history of Hindi literature. The play went on to spur the beginning of a new movement in Hindi literature called the Nai Kahani (New Story) movement. The idea was to challenge the idealistic nature of Hindi writing and emphasise on real time social issues such as social inequality, disparity and injustice. Moreover, the stories belonging to this period had no sense of catharsis and provided no false hope of a better tomorrow.