The play is set in the late eighteenth century during the decline of the Moghul Empire when Shah Alam was emperor and India swarmed with a variety of European mercenary soldiers and adventurers who came to make their fortunes by taking part in the power-struggles that were going on. The play focuses first, on a military brigade led by a Swiss German soldier of fortune named Col. Walter Reinhardt Sombre. It was one of the best-trained brigades and had a component of 273 Europeans, many of them were deserters from the British and other European armies, along with 2,700 Indian soldiers.

They were a tough lot who demanded loyalty and wages — by the roughest means. Col. Sombre came to be known in India as Sumroo’s through a mispronunciation of his last name.

The play shows how an extremely capable Indian woman, with humble beginnings as an impoverished dancing-girl, took over the brigade from its smitten European commander, led it, made it the most efficient in India, never lost a battle, rescued an Emperor, was wooed by the English and French, had lovers of many nationalities and, among her fans, she could eventually count men of the cloth including the Pope.

She also built a couple of palaces and churches that may be seen to this day. She was like an Indian equivalent of Joan of Arc but succeeded so admirably in all she did that she avoided being martyred and is therefore not remembered except by a few historians. In short, the play is about a European-officered brigade and an amazing Indian woman who was ahead of her time and ours.
ISBN: 8129105179
Publisher: RUPA & CO

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SKU: 8129105179
Weight 0.14 kg



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Author Description

Partap Sharma is a playwright, novelist (Days of the Turban) and author of four books for children. His best known plays, A Touch of Brightness and Begum Sumroo, have been staged in various countries. His books have been published in India, England, USA, France, Denmark, Holland and Canada. As an actor, he has played the lead in five Hindi feature films and won the National Award in 1971 for his performance in Phir Bhi. He has also played the role of Nehru in the film Nehru: Jewel of India. In the year 2003, he spent three months in China to take part, again as Nehru, in an international film titled Chou-en-lai in Bandung. He has directed a number of documentary films, including a historical series for Channel Four Television, London, titled The Raj Through Indian Eyes. As a result, England’s Museum of the British Empire & Commonwealth, in Bristol, now has a permanent section devoted to film clips and interviews titled The Partap Sharma Archive on the British Raj. His voice is well-known to cinema, TV and radio audiences as he is one of India’s foremost commentators and narrators. He is the recipient of the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.