Ananda Lal
COLLECTED PLAYS VOL. I & II by Girish Karnad Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2006, 319 pp., 495/545
July 2006, volume 30, No 7

The editor of this periodical has a wry sense of humour. She requested Girish Karnad to review the Oxford Companion to Indian Theatre, edited by me. Now she asks me to review Karnad’s Collected Plays, also published by Oxford University Press. Readers will appreciate the subtle trap in which she has placed me, not unlike those we typically encounter in Karnad’s drama. If I praise the set (which naturally I should), wags will nod their heads knowingly and joke that we belong to the Mutual Back-slapping Society. Therefore the only face-saving option for me is to criticize, so as to earn the tag of fairness. Yet how do I criticize an author as feted as Karnad, unanimously respected as substantial contributor to contemporary Indian theatre, on whom I myself have written articles and entries in international encyclopedias, and derived great pleasure in teaching to students? It is virtually unthinkable, given that this anthology comprises such iconic and influential texts as Tughlaq, Hayavadana, Naga-Mandala (in volume one), Tale-Danda and The Fire and the Rain (in volume two). So much has been published about them, a reviewer can add precious little.

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