Indra Sabha, a fine example of cultural union
New Delhi, 18th November 2018: Bhartiya Sangeet Sadan presented Indra Sabha, a combination of Mujra, Nautanki and Kathak today at Shankar Lal Auditorium, Modern School Barakhamba Road. Padam Bhushan Awardee Dr Uma Sharma has done the choreography off the whole event.Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Mr. Amar Singh MP Rajya Sabha and Actress Jaya Prada were the chief guests of the evening. Dr Uma Sharma welcomed all the guests, artists and audience.
A fine example of the Indo-Muslim culture of the 19th Century is the musical production, ‘Indra Sabha’ based on the rich heritage of thumri, dadra and ghazal; it provides a glimpse into the regal splendour of the court of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last King of Oudh, Ayodhya.
A great connoisseur and patron of the Arts, the legendary Nawab’s knowledge and interest in the Hindu mythology enabled him to entwine the two cultures sensitively and imaginatively, thus creating a mystical ‘Indra-Sabha, a fantasy of the royal court in heaven, ruled by the King of Clouds.
The Nawab’s passion for poetry, music, dance and drama was so great that he created two famous musicals during his rein and also played the lead characters in them. Apart from ‘Indra Sabha’, the other musical was ‘Rahas’, derived from the word ‘Rahasya’, meaning mysticism. The latter was inspired by Raas Leela; he portrayed the Radha-Krishna legend symbolizing the union of the mortal soul and the immortal universal soul.
In ‘Indra –Sabha’ the heavenly courtiers are of Gandharvas, Deos, Apsaras and Hoories. The ‘Kaal’ a symbolic of ‘Time’ in the cosmic sense is represented by Deo, displaying the conflict between Heaven and Earth in a light-hearted and entertaining way.
The musical was originally written by Amanat Ali in 1852 and was performed at Kesar Bagh ka Chauraha, in Lucknow, where the Nawab played the role of Indra.This script of Indra Sabha was given to Dr. Uma Sharma by Late Shri Mulk Raj Anand and music was done by Late Smt. Naina Devi (famous thumri singer) which is recreated by Ustad Imran Khan based on the music of Naina Deviji.
The story revolves around the heavenly court of Indra and his Apsaras, or nymphs- Pukhraj Pari, Neelam Pari, Lal Pari and Sabz Pari, signifying gems- topaz, sapphire, ruby and emerald, also the colors of nature. The latter falls in love with the mortal Gulfaam, this infuriates Indra. He banishes them from heaven. But with the intervention of ‘kaal’ (Deo), the cosmic ‘Time’ the couple live happily ever after.
This musical is also the beginning of the Nautanki and Mujra forms of performances, it is said. It is interesting to find that in the script the names of Akhtar nagar and Singhaldweep are mentioned. Akhtar was Wajid Ali Shah’s pen name and his ‘Nagar’ was Oudh that is Ayodhya;Singhal Dweep was Lanka, perhaps also the legend of Ram and Ravan was reflected in the Nawab’s imagination in this script.