Despite the fact that Utpal Dutt is acknowledged as among the trailblazers of post-Independence Indian theatre, readers outside Bengal have not had access to the range and wealth of his drama. Barricade (1972) is one such masterpiece. A political play, it stages the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933, but with an eye on India. For example, referring to the Nazis’ infamous act of setting books ablaze, one character says: ‘If I have to survive by carrying out their commands, where’s my respect for reading Schopenhauer and Karl Marx? They’re burning books, understand?’ Today, the surge to power of far-right parties and fundamentalist fanaticism across the world means that the co-option of democracy and civil society in 1933 leading to Nazi fascism can happen again—or indeed has already happened—restoring to Barricade its immediate urgency. The Introduction analyses its historical context. The translation is also a very rare product in dramatic literature, collating both the printed original as well as a documented performance of the production directed by Dutt.
‘Dutt felt that 1933 Germany was being repeated in 1970s Kolkata, and exactly 50 years later, what he wrote resonates for us again.’ Click here to read an interview with the translator, Ananda Lal, on scroll.in.
‘The enormous work of Bengali writer, actor and director, Utpal Dutt (1929–1993) has hardly received the appreciation due to it. Ananda Lal's recent English translation of Utpal Dutt's Barricade has shifted the spotlight to the vast oeuvre of his work as also to the absence of sustained discussion around it, especially to a non-Bengali reader/audience.’—Payal Nagpal, The Book Review. Click here to read the full review (behind a paywall).
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