Mohan Se Mahatma – a review by Manohar Khushalani


About how Mohan discovered Ahimsa and became Mahatma
Shorter version published earlier as Discovering Ahimsa in IIC Diary Sep-Oct 2017


As a Part of IIC’s ‘Festival of the Arts’ 2017, Pierrot’s Troupe presented ‘Mohan Se Mahatma’, directed by Sayeed Alam. It was a play about the Champaran Satyagrah, an episode that happened a century ago. It introduced Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to the Indian rural milieu. The performance was dedicated to the memory of the late Tom Alter, who had played this role, just before he passed away. The play opens with 55 year old Gandhi, enacted by Ravi Raj Sagar, who had picked up the role at such a short notice. We see Gandhi writing notes about theSatyagrah for his autobiography “My Experiments with Truth”. In the chapter titled, ‘Face to face with Ahimsa’, Gandhi shows how he evolved,at Champaran, his most potent non-violent weapon of the century.

The director uses a minimalistic style of presentation, which is very potent and effective. With just a change of lighting, accompanied by the sound of achugging steam engine, he creates a Railway platform and heralds the arrival of the then 47 year old Mohan, in a Kathiawari dress,enacted by Sayeed, who goes on to be dubbed as Mahatma by the end of the struggle.

While we see his partners in crime, the intelligentsia of Bihar, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Acharya Kripilani and a host of others, simultaneously, the story also demonstrates the contributions of the people and the peasants of Bihar towards Indian freedom movement. The high point of the play is when the British find it necessary to nip Gandhi’s movement in the bud, by filing charges against him.However, seeing the groundswell of public support, they panic and before he could appear in the court, withdraw charges against him. The country thus had its first direct lessons in Civil Disobedience.


Condensed version published earlier as Discovering Ahimsa in IIC Diary Sep-Oct 2017
in IIC Experience a Festival of Arts 2017
Manohar Khushalani

Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is a former Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he taught were: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won a total of nine Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Earlier he retired from Government of India as Director Environment Management, Central Water Commission and held many senior positions in the Government Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He was an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

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