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What the Brits did to Delhi

Delhi is often synonymous with pomposity, larger-than-life celebrations and its big beautiful buildings, especially around Lutyen’s Delhi. But do we know how the city got those trademarks? A play titled, Glittering Decades, tries to decode the mystery and history behind today’s Delhi.

art and culture Updated: Sep 12, 2013 12:07 IST
Chetna Dua

Delhi is often synonymous with pomposity, larger-than-life celebrations and its big beautiful buildings, especially around Lutyen’s Delhi. But do we know how the city got those trademarks? A play titled, Glittering Decades, tries to decode the mystery and history behind today’s Delhi.

Adapted from the book Glittering Decades: New Delhi in Love & War, written by Indian-Australian writer Nayantara Pothen, the play traces the history of New Delhi from 1931 to 1952 - the last years of British rule that were responsible for the rise of the middle class and politicians. “Ironically, the last 20 years of shaped the Delhi that we see today — from the Rashtrapati Bhawan and India Gate made as hallmarks of British rule to the ceremonies and pompous attitude in the 1940s. The British loved pomp and show — something that Delhiites have imbibed to the core and are known for today,” says Sohaila Kapur, founder Katyayani Productions, that is directing the Play.

“The play tries to answer why Delhi is the way it is today. On the one hand, there was a refugee influx, severe shortages and a thriving black market, while on the other, there was endless socialising with cocktail parties and balls at fancy clubs, with their strictly enforced etiquette and ballroom diplomacy,” adds Kapur.

Interestingly, the play also marks the Capital and Delhi Gymkhana Club’s centenary and will be performed at the club on September 14. With a star cast featuring media personality Sunit Tandon, Alexander Holmes (British journalist), Vani Vyas (television anchor) and Anuja Thirani (Business woman and theatre actor) , the play revolves around a British and Indian brother-sister duo writing letters to a British lady about the changes they observe in the city. As a stroke of destiny, actor Sunit Tandon, who plays the role an officer in the Indian Civil Service (ICS) in the play, is wearing a coat that his grandfather wore in the 1930s as part of the ICS.

Catch it live
What:
Glittering Decades
When: September 7, 8
Time: 7pm
Where: Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road
NEAREST METRO STATION: Jor Bagh on the Yellow Line