For some years now, Indian Playwright Abhishek Majumdar has been forging a niche for himself as a writer who isn't afraid to tackle contentious subjects. His previous plays include Rizwan, Lucknow 76, An Arrangement of Shoes and Afterlife of Birds. Majumdar's latest play The Djinns of Eidgah, directed by Richard Twyman, at the Royal Court brims with his trademark firebrand attitude.
Centred on two orphaned siblings Ashrafi and Bilal, set to the backdrop of the conflict in Kashmir, The Djinns of Eidgah is about the generation born into this seemingly endless conflict, which has no sign of being resolved. From a people that dreamed of full independence, Kashmir is now occupied by three nations China, Pakistan and India, and has become one of the most militarised places on earth.
For The Djinns of Eidgah, Majumdar took true testimonies from patients and staff at a psychiatric hospital in Srinagar, mixing together fiction with a raw undercurrent of reality. He explained that the play incorporates the social and political, in the hope that people will begin to think and start a debate for themselves about the conflict.
The Djinns of Eidgah dispels the general assumption that this conflict is about a 'clash of civilisations' with one group fighting for Islam and the other fighting for liberal democracy. It is, as Majumdar bluntly put it, bullshit.
Its focus on two young people, forced to grapple with their emotions, is but one element to the play. The myriad themes which cradle the story came together through building the play layer by layer, as Majumdar explained; creating a play like a novel, with depth and variety, The Djinns of Eidgah is a symbolic exercise in questioning the futility of war and the emotional and psychological effects it has on those caught in the middle.
The key thing which Majumdar hopes people will take away, is that no one can be a passive observer when it comes to conflict, no matter how distant, and that essentially there is no difference between the military in Kashmir and the Mujahideen, both are continuing the conflict.
The Djinns of Eidgah gives us an understanding of the situation in Kashmir from a different perspective, without the routine exaggerations we see in the media. It's a story of humanity pushed to its limits.
The Djinns of Eidgah, presented as part of International Playwrights: A Genesis Foundation Project, with additional support from the British Council, runs until 9 November 2013