Currimbhoy: A Great Indian Playwright
The history of Indian drama is very old. Its origin can be traced back to the Vedic Period. It is popular as the fifth Veda. The Indian English drama made genuine progress in the early post-independence period. Asif Currimbhoy made a significant contribution in its development. He liberated it from the static tradition of Tagore and Aurobindo and laid a strong foundation for Indian drama.
Asif Currimbhoy is an Indian playwright. He is one of the most prolific playwrights of the Post-Independence period. As a playwright he has no equal. He is known as India's first authentic voice in the theatre. He is one modern Indian playwright who has shown great interest in producing drama. His love for Shakespearean drama has influenced his body of work.
Asif Currimbhoy had a background of a reputed family of Khoja Muslims. His father was an industrialist and his mother was a dedicated social worker. His wife, Suraiya, called him a Karma Yogi. He was acquainted with English language from his childhood. This acquaintance helped him in attaining mastery over this language. His intellectual background influenced his dramatic career.
Currimbhoy is a dramatist of tremendous energy. He has produced more than thirty plays - farce, comedy, tragedy, melodrama, history, fantasy etc. He has written on a variety of themes. His plays are classified into social, political and religious ones. He carefully selected social political and religious issues related to India and neighbouring countries. He was moved by the violence that erupted in the country during the sixties. Thus variety and versatility are the distinguishing marks of this dramatist.
Currimbhoy has made his debut as a dramatist for the stage. His plays are first and foremost meant for the stage. The Clock, the Refugee, Goa, Doldrummers, Inquilab, Sonar Bangla, Thorns on a Canvas, the Hungry Ones, the Miracle Seed, the Dumb Dancer, the Dissident M.L.A., Monsoon and The Valley of Assassins are his well known works. In these plays Currimbhoy deals with different aspects and problems of life. He does not worship beauty and does not present idealism. He presents life with its reality. He has taken unusual themes from contemporary Indian society and skillfully used them into his plays. Currimbhoy was shocked to observe the arrogance of power, cruelty, violence and sex which was too terrifying, repulsive and almost barbaric.
His first play Goa deals with racial discrimination. Inquilab is based on contemporary Maoixt Naxalite movement in Bengal. Sonar Bangla encompasses the entire liberation of Bangladesh. The Refugee deals with the influx of Bangladeshi refugee into India. The Valley of Assassins narrates the origin of the Persian Ismailis. Evidently particular events or conditions stimulated his creative imagination. His canvas was wide encompassing Gandhi’s inner conflict, the flight of the Dalai Lama, the famines of Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra, the invasion of Goa, the conflict between the Hindus and the Muslims have been dramatized with superb realism.
Currimbhoy’s characters are engaged in life-destroying conflict between opposing ideologies. His portrayal of characters adds richness and variety to his dramatic art. Asif Currimbhoy uses his characters to explain his special point of view. We find different types of characters such as surrealistic, absurd, dominant, frustrated, malevolent, optimistic, complex character of oedipal nature, the committed and the uncommitted. The playwright invests his characters with a touch of universality of appeal.
In spite of comprehensiveness, Currimbhoy`s dramatic art has been a subject of criticism. Currimbhoy’s plays are passionate and heavily symbolic. His symbols are often crude, conventional and mechanic. Each play of Currimbhoy is different from the other play, not only in subject matter, but also in style, in presentation, in structure and in organic development.
Currimbhoy’s plays have won greater recognition outside India. Social realism is an outstanding trait in his plays. His keen observation enabled him to understand life in its various shades. As an artist, he hardly allowed himself to be cut off from life. As a committed playwright, he presents a problem, but reserves his final verdict. In short, Currimbhoy’s achievement in the field of drama is both impressive and distinctive and it is also touched with the hallmark of significant attainment.