Arts and culture

‘Gharnata’: Retracing Lost Routes


17 November| 6:00 PM: The play ‘Gharnata’  was a walk in the past unveiling the reality of destruction of faith and the believers in the name of power and politics. The play revolved around subjugation and violence which in turn revolved around the very process of political alterations. The play recalled the Moorish Empire in and around Spain and it’s ‘forgotten past’:

“The narrative that unravels is that of a forgotten period of Islamic rule in Spain which began in 711 AD when the Moors or the Muslims from North-Western Africa descended on the Iberian peninsula. What finds us is a vast expanse of Moorish science, philosophy, architecture, cartography, music and numerous translations that silently question Western Enlightenment and its notions of progress of History.”  (Excerpt from the description of the event on Facebook)

The play begins with the happiness and joy of a little boy who is excited to teach chess to his caretaker. The chess is a metaphor of what would ensue in the play- the strategies of the ‘black’ king, the evilness of the bishop and the death of the common ‘white’ man is portrayed brilliantly in the play.


The play was performed by students of JNU under the guidance of Prof Nivedita Menon and Dr Soumyabrata Choudhury

The play places itself in the times when the Moorish culture was in danger due to Catholic indulgence among the royalty. The wipe-out of Moorish culture, the burning of thousand books and the strife of the masses were a central message of this play which was portrayed intricately by the internal discussions taking place in the house of a common man, at the royal courts and at the streets.

The ushering in of revolutionary ideas through Ibn Daud played by Supriya Joshi of CPS- which led to a massive uprising against Christianity and the withering away of the Moorish culture under the predominance of Christianity are two major events that the play depicts.

The nuances of the play can be traced in the impressive acting by the cast. The gullible military general with a veil of evilness played by Dushyant Kavejendra of CPS, the evil Cisneros who led the destruction played by Muhammad Mutahhar Amin of CPS and the perks of humor presented by the soldiers Shareef CM (SAA) and Pawan Harman (CSSS) and the quirky kid who holds all the symbolic emotional upheavals (played by Kamalini Hegde, CSSS) took the stage by thunders of applause.


The costumes, stage decor and aura created spoke for themselves

The costumes and the stage decor spoke for the scenes. Divyanka Shekhawat from CPS was applauded for her excellent costume designs. Ashank from CSSS, played the cynic and the philosopher- the one who questions, the one who led to a commentary in the background of this stage play in his soliloquy, Reina Gattuso stole her moment with the mesmerising vocals from al-andalus Project. Sarthak Bhatiya from CCPPT played the leader Zuhayr who would give up his life for safeguarding his faith and leads the fight against the oppressive alien faith. Aishwarya Walvekar from SAA depicted the picture of a woman who is free from the bonds and rules placed by this society. She is an image of freedom of being in the Moorish culture. Ashfaq from CISLS portrayed the evil that the royalty breeds from the assurance of Power.


The cast of the play on the stage

The play was well directed and with the exactness of the lighting sequence and the sound mix led to an impactful performance.

This play was directed by Swati Simha, a student of CCPPT who brought her work in visuals and storytelling into through it. This play was mentored by Prof Nivedita Menon and Dr Soumyabrata Choudhury.

The exhibition outside the auditorium spread across with sheets of doodles, a symbolic burning of the books and a historical picture pinned on the board. The effort and a month old hard work of the participants showed on the stage and was revered and applauded by the audience.

Ankita Jha works for The Informer