Ghashiram Kotwal

Ghashiram Kotwal is a Marathi play written by playwright Vijay Tendulkar in 1972 , as his response to the rise of a local political party, Shiv Sena, in Maharashta .

The play is a political satire, written as historical drama. Based on the life of Nana Phadnavis (1741-1800), one of the prominent minister in the court of the Peswa of Pune. Its theme is how men in power give rise to ideologies to serve their purposes, and later destroy them when they become useless.

It was first performed on 16 December 1972, by the Progressive Drama Association in Pune. Jabbar Patel's production of the play in 1973 is considered a classic in Modern Indian Theatre .


The play begins with an invocation to lord Ganesha. Then the Brahmins of Pune introduce themselves and we can see the morally corrupt state of affairs in Pune. Nana Phadnavis who is the Diwan(Chief Secretary) of Pune is also corrupt and visits the lavani dancer. Ghashiram is working with the lavani dancer. Ghashiram being a Brahmin goes to collect alms at the Peshwa's festival the next day. However he is ill-treated there and is charged with pick-pocketing and thrown to jail. He then decides to take revenge.

Ghashiram barters his own daughter to get the post of Kotwal (police chief) of Pune from Nana. Having got the post he begins to enforce strict rules in the city. He starts asking for permits for everything and starts throwing people in jail for the smallest offences.

In the mean time, Ghashiram's daughter is killed by Nana. The situation goes out of hand when a few people in the jail die out of suffocation. The Brahmins then complain to the Peshwa. The Peshwa summons Nana who gives order to kill Ghashiram in the most derogatory way possible. Thus it leads to Ghashi's Death.


The play stands out also for the use "Tamasha" Genre in the play so you have a lot of singing and dancing used here to good effect, here the "abhangas" (devotional songs) mixed in with the "Lavnis" (Love songs).

Original Cast and Crew


This play caused a lot of controversy because some people believed that it hurt the feelings of the chitpavan Brahmin community and that it showed the statesman Nana Phadnavis in a bad light. Hence it was temporarily banned in the state .

Film adaptation

The play was adapted into a film, 'Ghashiram Kotwal' (1976), which was the debut film of actor Om Puri. Film's screenplay was written by Vijay Tendulkar, himself.

Further reading

  • Ghashiram Kotwal, Vijay Tendulkar, Sangam Books, 1984. ISBN 817046210X.
  • Collected Plays in Translation: Kamala, Silence! the Court Is in Session, Sakharam Binder, the Vultures, Encounter in Umbugland, Ghashiram Kotwal, a Friend's Story, Kanyadaan. New Delhi, 2003, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195662091.
  • Vijay Tendulkar's Ghashiram Kotwal: a Reader's Companion. M. Sarat Babu, Asia Book Club, 2003. ISBN 8178510081
  • Vijay Tendulkar's Ghashiram Kotwal : Critical Perspectives. Vinod Bala Sharma and M. Sarat Babu. 2005, Prestige Books, New Delhi. ISBN 8178510022


External links

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