Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review- Bravely Fought the Queen

AUTHOR: Mahesh Dattani
Genre: Drama
ISBN: 0143062077
ISBN-13: 9780143062073, 978-0143062073
MRP: Rs.99 

BOOK COVER SAYS: First staged in Mumbai in 1991, Bravely Fought the Queen juggles between two spaces centre stage where an empirical drama removes the mask of hypocrisy from a seemingly normal urban household; and a small, rear backdrop from where emerges the raison d être of each protagonist. 
The family in focus is that of two brothers, Jiten and Nitin, who run an advertising agency and are married to sisters: Dolly and Alka. Their mother, Baa, moves between the two households, attached more to her memories of the past than to any present reality. Marital friction, sibling rivalry, the traditional tension between mother-in-law and daughters-in-law, the darker moments of business and personal dealings, the play takes us through the entire gamut of emotional experience as it winds to a climactic finish. 
With its relentless pace, crisp idiom and unflinching insight into the urban milieu, this is a play that confirms Mahesh Dattani s reputation as India s most influential playwright. 

EXCERPT:  "Lalitha: You stunt their growth. You keep trimming the roots and bind their've got to make sure,the roots don't have enough space to spread..."

SWARNALI SPEAKS:  Mahesh Dattani challenges many universal questions regarding traditional and stereotyped gender roles in his plays. Through his plays Dattani explores the multiple facets of human relationships and their validity in today's world. Many of the subjects that he chooses cannot be comfortably or directly discussed in an orthodox social milieu as in India. Issues like incest,lechery,female subjugation amongst others are strongly condemned in India in public and Dattani very tactfully raises his voice on these social taboos in an oblique manner through a plethora of symbols.

In this particular play,Dattani takes the title from the famous lines of a Hindi poem by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, that all Indians are sure to have heard in childhood-
" Khub ladi mardani woh toh Jhansi wali Rani thi " (translated-"Bravely fought the manly queen of Jhansi")

The very first time I saw the book,it was the title which caught my attention. I couldn't help but be reminded of the same poem. Intrigued how a contemporary playwright could have used the same lines to tell a tale in the modern world,I picked it up and I can happily say I don't regret my decision!! I was so addicted after reading this one that i couldn't help myself from reading all his other plays and they are equally good. 

This book is an amazing read especially if you are an Indian and if you are appalled by the hypocrisy in everyday things in the society. A very fast moving plot makes you feel like you are actually watching the play being performed infront of your eyes and you are yourself a character in it. The title or book cover may suggest a feminist idea being propagated but I assure you that is not the only thing or issue being addressed in the book. This is not a light book as it may keep haunting you for several days as it did to me. The light hearted family talks in the first two acts take a sudden turn in the final act and the reader or viewer is left open mouthed as slowly everything is revealed. Dattani does a brilliant job in cleverly hiding the final surprises/shocks. A must read for all.



  1. Wow, sounds like a must read. Must get my hands on this one :-)

    1. Trust me on this one,you won't regret reading it. I never knew reading Drama could be this awesome :)

  2. already i can relate to the story ...the big indian drama ! it seems that its a must read :)and you are at your best to review it :):):)

    1. Thanks you so much Ayantika for your lovely comments. I hope you read the book,it has more than the title and I can promise you a wonderful surprise at the end.

  3. Ooh this sounds interesting. I am certainly going to add this on my Goodreads list. It's difficult for me to read play scripts, but I want to try for this one.


  4. this sounds like a very good book on gender roles. thanks for the great review!


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