This is a play about Nathu Ram Godse and his motivations behind assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. In the play, character of Nathu argues for necessity of killing of Gandhi before it becomes too late, kills Gandhi, and proudly goes in death row. The play is full of nationalist sentiments. Nathu repeatedly identifies him self with Sivaji. He cites the great cultural heritage of Indus valley civilization. He cites ancient epic references to the places in current Pakistan, which after all shows that whole south asia should have been a country called Hindustan or Bharat. He is specifically angry about giving away ‘Holy Sindhu’ river to Pakistan. He mainly accuses Gandhi for not standing against the partition. He believes that if Gandhi has been firm against partition then it could have been stopped it. Therefore, Gandhi bears the responsibility for partition. He then goes on further to make a case for assassination. He says Gandhi should be stopped because he is full of crazy ideas to appease Pakistan even if Pakistan is waging war against India.
The problem with the play is that there is no strong character against Nathu . Son of Gandhi suppose to represent opposite side of Nathu’s position. He appearers at the end of the play and argues with the Nathu. He has weak lines. Nathu wins the argument with nationalistic jargon and very simplistic arguments. For example, he argued that Gandhi’s religion-does-not-divide attitude is flawed because other side, which is Pakistan, doesn’t recognize this phillosophy. We are being attacked and we should prepare to fight in our self defense. Why even we thinking about helping Pakistan with lots of money?* If Gandhi looked at everybody equal then why did he fight with British? At this point, son of Gandhi becomes speechless and Nathu wins. I find it such a weak defense of Gandhi. Someone could have easily argued that Gandhi was not fighting against British but the repressive and unjust system, which they represent. Gandhi simply wanted injustice to end.
Gandhi had his own ideals and he was acting on them. He made his choices according to his thinking. As there is vast evidence that he has been consistent and honest to his principles. So, we may safely assume that he made his choices in honest spirit in the case of the partition. My faithful guess of his vision is that nothing can be fixed in one decision and we need sustained efforts. Let’s wait and try to join Hindu and Muslim community before joining India and Pakistan. This play also reflects that Nathu has no principle criticism against Gandhi’s ideals. He liked Gandhi’s basic ideas. He didn’t even try to accuse Gandhi as charlatan or being inconsistent. He was just unhappy about Gandhi’s attitude towards Pakistan.
This play doesn’t paint complexity of the situation. It cites Hindu’s being killed in riots but it doesn’t say anything about Muslims being killed. It ends with a massage of certainty of correctness of Nathu’s position. I think this is a dishonest thing to do if you are writing a play about such a complicated issue.
*India had obligation to pay 550Million rupees to Pakistan at that time, which many were arguing that India don’t have to honor the obligation because Pakistan is invading India via Kashmir. But, Gandhi jumped into the discussion and said that India has to honor its obligations. Even though he had no official position in the government, he was more influence on government then anyone else.