AD's English Literature : Analyses of Habib Tanvir’s play "Charandas Chor" as Thematic Complexity ( Paradox)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Analyses of Habib Tanvir’s play "Charandas Chor" as Thematic Complexity ( Paradox)

Habib Tanvir’s play Charandas Chor, is steeped in paradox simply because the title character Charandas in spite of being a thief   is really honest, sympathetic and truthful-  The very idea of the hero in the play is based on paradoxes and contradictions.   Read More Indian English   One could not conceive the play, Charandas Chor , in any other terms than seeing it as a putting together of truth and lie simultaneously in a man.  Read More Indian English Farther, there are liars, scoundrels, thieves, but they are men of principles as well. There are custodians of law, but they are breakers of it too. There are saints and sanyasis, but they run after money as well. There are men of intellect, but it is very easy to deceive them. There are rich, affluent people, but at heart, they are the poorest. Affluent people like the landlord are poor at heart. He cannot share a kilo with those who have nothing. There are paupers, but at heart, they are very rich. The paupers like the peasant are rich in heart. Thus, the theme of the entire play is embedded in a remarkable juxtaposition of opposites, one after another. In the play, as has been pointed out, truth and lie go hand in hand. Read More Indian English People who deceive and cheat others turn out to be humanitarian as well.  The theme and the characters of the play reveal and depict paradoxes and contradiction of the society and the human nature in the dramatic umbrela.



 Charandas, the so called hero or the anti hero in the play is a thief, who steals golden plates. He is all the time chased by a policeman. He robs the poor farmers, snatches jewellery from a wealthy merchant’s wife. He even enters into the temple and steals whatever he finds there. Read More Indian English He is even not afraid of anything while robbing the queen of her five coins. Though Charandas snatches the belonging of a poor peasant but he also readily shares the sattu with him. He robs a wealthy man’s wife and is expected to run away. But Charandas returns her ornaments because he cannot bear to see a woman weep. Overall, where a Munim is expected to guard the royal treasury, incidentally he steals. When he is caught and driven out from the court Charandas, a thief, criticizes him by calling him ‘thief'. This is a great paradox. Charandas himself gets the opportunity of marrying a queen and becoming a king. But he refuses because he wanted to keep his word. This is quite unexpected from a thief. The queen also suffers from a contradiction between the role of an administrator and a beloved. Thus,  Read More Drama  stealing and giving go hand in hand in Charandas' case. On the one hand, he is a thief, and thieves are not supposed to be humanitarian. They are supposed to run away with whatever they get. But, Charandas never does that, he first steals and then returns. For example, as it is briefed earlier, after stealing sattu from a poor peasant, he shouts, “Arrey, sattu, only sattu! Oh sattuwala! Come here! Come on back, don’t be scared. Sit down; let’s share this like brothers” (Tanvir 60). Charandas has stolen sacks of rice from the landlord. Yet the chorus sings: ‘Charandas is not a thief.’ — Why?


In the other instance, being faced a terrible famine in the village the peasant could not manage a single grain of food for three days to his children. He came to the landlord to beg alms. But in spite of giving a single grain of food the landlord behaved badly and drove out him. With the help of Rawat dancers Charandas and the peasant came in disguise to the landlord house. When landlord and his servant were busy in enjoying the dace they stole all the sacks of rice. Then they distributed the rice among all the villagers.In this time the chorus sang, Charandas is not a thief because the landlord is undoubtedly greater thief than Charandas. Being a thief Charandas steals in the night because stealing is his dharma but the landlord steals in the open daylight from the poor people. Landlord sucks the blood of common people and earns a lot but never shares a single grain of corn with the poor people.

 On the other hand, Charandas robs the wealthy and distributes the wealth among the poor. Read More Indian English He robs a wealthy merchant’s wife, he is expected to run away with all the booty, but, instead of this, Charandas cannot see her weep. He returns immediately whatever he has snatched. A wealthy merchant’s wife from Nandagaon enters in to the stage. She is covered in ornaments from head to toe. The heavy jewellery comes to the sight of Charandas. Then he hits upon a plan to snatch the jewellery. He tells her that Chhotey Babu is seriously ill. He keeps calling for his didi. He won’t take medicine from any other than his didi. The woman corrects Charandas that she is Cbhotey Babu’s bhabi. Charandas insists her to accompany him as there is no time to be wasted. He is on the verge of death. The women readily go with him. After walking a few paces Charandas stops. He frightens her saying that a man was attacked there just the other day. He suggests her to take off her ornament and put it in his gamchha. The woman does so. In the mean time she confesses that the jewellery is brought from Raigarh and the name of the jeweler is Ramlal. Then Charandas ordered the woman to hand them over to him for safety. The woman refuses to give it. Charandas snatches it. The woman calls him rogue and starts crying. She curses him. Charandas too starts crying. At last Charandas returns her ornaments because he can not bear to see a woman weep. 

Actually, Charandas inadvertently takes five vows before the Guru.  According to them, he will never eat in golden plate, never presides an elephant procession, never marry a queen and never be a king. He also says that he will never lie in future. Now, on the one hand, he is not ready to abjure stealing, which he calls as his “Dharma” (Tanvir 101), on the other hand, he pledges to remain truthful. No doubt, he does not give up stealing, but he also adheres to his oath of becoming a truthful man. Read More Indian English A thief is generally supposed to be selfish, mean and egocentric. Charandas happened to hear that a new Minister was coming to inspect the treasury. He made a plan with his Guru. He also took the help of the Havaldar. The havaldar brought flowers and garlands. The Guru greeted the new Minister by offering garlands in such a way that he could see nothing. Thereafter, the Guru engaged the Minister to inaugurate a lot of shops and market places. In the meantime Charandas, in the disguise of the new Minister collected the key of the royal chest from the Münim. He befooled the Munim and the sentries with his authoritative attitude. Charandas opened the chest and took only five gold coins just to make the queen know that she had been robbed. After that Charandas returned the key to the Munim and left the place. But, Charandas is of a helping nature. He robs the landlord not for his own sake, but for the sake of the entire village. He robs the Queen not to enhance his fortunes, but to make his presence felt. Later on, time tests him. He is given opportunity of leading a procession, marrying a queen, eating in a golden plate and becoming a king. But, he refuses to do any of the things. Had there been any other common man, he could have pounced upon this golden opportunity without caring for future consequences. 

Interestingly, the Queen happens to be young and pretty, and she also offers to pay off all penances: “Do penance, if necessary. We can hold an atonement ceremony and gather all the ascetics and holy men and fulfill all the rituals necessary to absolve you” (Tanvir 110). Charandas is expected to surrender, but no, he is very firm. Read More Indian English This explains the nature of paradox. He prefers to die rather than succumbing to all pressures. 

Another paradox dealt within the play is: Spiritualism versus Materialism. This is evident from the conduct of the Guru and the Priest. On the one hand, there is religion represented by the Guru and the Priest. As Guru is supposed to be a man of restraint, a man who has renounced all worldly considerations, a man who is selfless and benevolent. The Guru in the play also asks his followers to give up their vices, and yet he is a man of this world, he is more concerned with money than with salvation. The song which he sings constantly proves this: That’s all you have to do, just give the guru his due. Is it salvation you want? Just Give the guru his due (Tanvir 64). The Priest is also supposed to be a man of pious nature. He is expected to be well versed in the Vedas Read More Indian English. Now, the priest in the play does perform ceremonies yet reading of many religious scripts fail to turn him into a man of wisdom. He is not able to penetrate beneath the mask which Charandas is wearing. His heart leaps when he sees a basket full of golden ornaments. He is not here motivated by any humanitarian instinct. His eyes are set simply upon the precious booty which forces him to make Charandas stay there. 


To conclude, it can be said that Charandas Chor is a remarkable play steeped in paradox. Read More Drama These paradoxes not only make the play interesting, but make it complex as well. What Tanvir is trying to prove is that, perhaps, nothing is final and noting is absolute? Truth becomes lie and lie becomes truth. Preserve becomes offender and offender becomes preserver. Meaning is never fixed. It is determined by the context. Secondly, these paradoxes also surprise and amuse the readers because of the innate irony which they carry in them. One expects one thing, but something quite different and surprising happens. This constant shifting from one meaning to the other makes the play a delightful and illuminating reading.  The death of Charandas apart from being tragic is ironical. Like Socrates, Jesus Christ and Gandhi. Charandas died for truth. Read More Indian English He is a common, simple and unheroic. He took vows not to tell lie. His truthfulness raises him from the status of a petty village thief to that of a popular hero. He was honoured by the queen when he told the truth about the theft of five coins. Again his truthfulness brought death to him. When the queen requested him not to tell people what happened between them, Charandas did not agree to tell a lie. Charandas did not go the convenient way of saying yes to the queen. The queen is not simply a tyrant, but a crude politician. There was no way she could let him go free. As soon as she knew that the populace would get to know, she feared her position. So, she ordered him to be killed to save her honour. This death of Charandas presents a struggle between the state and a protagonist. This is seen throughout history that such people are always eliminated.


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