18th November 2018, 6:30 pm
(at Shankar Lal Hall, Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi.)

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last King of Oudh, was a great connoisseur and patron of the arts. The Nawab’s knowledge and vivid imagination enabled him to mingle two cultures sensitively and beautifully, and the artistically projected his ideas in the form of two musicals "INDRA-SABHA" and "RAHAS". The Nawab’s passion for poetry, music, dance and drama was so great that he not only created the musicals but took part in them personally in the main roles.

Whereas ‘RAHAS’ derived from ‘Rahasya’ meaning mysticism, and inspired by Raas Leela, he portrayed the Radha-Krishna legend symbolising the union of the mortal soul and the immortal universal soul, ‘INDRA-SABHA’ was a fantasy of royal court in heaven in which the King of Clouds, Indra, was supreme. Regal Indra presided over his heavenly courtiers Gandharvas, Deos, Apsaras and Hoories. The Deo ‘Kaal’ symbolized ‘Time’ in the cosmic region. The fantasy underlines a conflict between Heaven and Earth in a light-hearted and entertaining fashion.

It is interesting to find in the script, the names of Akhtarnagar and Singhaldweep. Akhtar was Wajid Ali Shah’s pen name and his ‘Nagar’ was Oudh, i.e., Ayodhya; and Singhaldweep was ‘Lanka’. Probably in some remote corner of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s imagination the Ram – Ravan legend existed.

In the fantasy INDRA-SABHA, there were 4 Apsaras who were the 4 Gems of the royal court. ‘Topaz’, the ‘Pukhraj Pari’, ‘Sapphire’, the ‘Neelam Pari’, ‘Ruby’, the ‘Lal Pari’ and ‘Emerald’, the ‘Sabz Pari’ – all the colours are linked with nature.

Raja Indra comes to know from one of the courtiers that ‘Sabz Pari’ of heaven and mortal Prince, Gulfaam on earth, are in love. The news infuriates the King and he banishes the lovers. Kaal Deo intervenes and pleads with Indra to forgive the lovers. Indra at last relents and the couple unites with the blessings of Indra and great rejoicing takes place in heaven.