Performance traces rivalry between Shah Jahan's daughters

Written by: IANS
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A rivalry between Shah Jahan's daughters
New Delhi, Oct 12: Very little is known about the relationship Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's daughters shared with each other. They both had difference of opinion and favoured one brother over another.

A performance in the national capital threw light on these aspects of complex relationship between Jahanara and Roshanara.

The National Museum has started its new initiative "History Performance Series" to bring together unique performances, telling stories of the past.

The first of the performance "Shah Jahan's Daughters: A compelling story from Mughal History" was staged at central courtyard of the museum Saturday evening.

Amid the natural settings of the museum began the 40-minute performance that was divided into five parts.

It was conceptualised by Darwesh, an organisation committed to excavate stories from the past and narrate them using performing arts and heritage walks.

A narrator first introduced the audience to the life and times of Shah Jahan and his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. How he was contemplating to build a "black Taj Mahal" to mourn the death of Mumtaz Mahal, in whose love he had built the Taj Mahal in Agra.

His idea was supported by his eldest son Dara Shikoh and daughter Jahanara, whereas Aurangzeb and Roshanara were against the ambitious plan of their father. And these differences led to estrangement between two sisters.

It was these conversations that came to life during the performance where two lead female actors brought out complexities of the royal court, the position of women, the relationship between Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb and also Dara Shikoh's role in the court.

From fighting over who is the right heir to the throne and why they support their respective brothers, to self-contemplation, the two girls argue over their father's nature to favour one son over another.

The performance along with a detailed narration by Meghali Roy, co-founder of Darwesh, after every episode highlighted the jealousy, enmity and bitterness two sisters had for each other.

The last episode focused on how cruel Aurangzeb imprisoned his father and Jahanara while his favourite sister Roshanara was bestowed with all rights of the royal court.

Then came how Roshanara started misusing power and Aurangzeb fed up with his sister's whimsical ways poisoned her.

The National Museum plans to make history retelling a monthly event in its calendar.


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