The Gentle Zephyr

Captures the intricate problems that beset the Mughal dynasty. An attempt to understand the concept of India we cherish, but often take for granted.
Sons Of Babur: A Play In Search Of India
By Salman Khurshid
Rupa Pages. 144; Rs. 295
Salman Khurshid represents a prominent face of modern Indian Muslims in their search of an identity in contemporary social life and politics. As a grandson of Zakir Hussain, he is heir to a valued legacy of striving for modern and mainstream education for Indian Muslims. Very few are aware that Zakir Hussain tried in his own modest way through his educational movement to prevent the establishment of a separate state of Pakistan. On the occasion of the silver jubilee of the Jamia Millia Islamia in 1945, he invited both Nehru and Jinnah as a last-ditch effort. Jinnah’s speech on that occasion is unfortunately lost.

In this debut play, Khurshid captures the intricate problems that beset the Mughal dynasty and expressed by the protagonist, Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, both a product and a victim of those very problems. It is also an attempt to understand the concept of India we cherish, but often take for granted.

As the plot progresses, the reader realises that India would not have been what it is but for the Great Mughals. The young historian in the play, Rudranshu Mitra, is obsessed with Zafar. To him, the last emperor is a symbolic link of India’s troubled past with its promising future. The play moves back and forth in time. Through his many excursions into Mughal and early British Indian history, Rudranshu helps us see this land as an assimilation of cultures.

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