Ashadh Ka Ek Din
Ashadh Ka Ek Din (Hindi: आषाढ़ का एक दिन, One Day in Ashadh) is a Hindi play by Mohan Rakesh that debuted in 1958 and is considered the first Modern Hindi play. The play received a Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for best play in 1959 and has been staged by several prominent directors to critical acclaim. A feature film based on the play was directed by Mani Kaul and released in 1971, and went on to win Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie for the year.
Before it Hindi plays to date were either idealistic or didactic, devoid of connection with contemporary reality; above all their language remained the language of literature, which wasn't suitable for the stage, but this play changed it all. Mohan Rakesh went on to write two more plays, and left one unfinished at the time of his death in 1972, but he had shifted the landscape of Hindi theatre.
Title of the play
The title of the play derives from the second verse of the Sanskrit dramatist Kalidas's play Meghadūta. It literally means A day in (the month of) Ashadh. Since the month of Ashadh is usually the onset period of the monsoon in North India, the name can be understood to mean One day during the Monsoon.
Ashadh ka ek din is a three-act play centered on Kalidas' life, sometime in the 100BCE-400CE period. In the first act, he is leading a peaceful life in a Himalayan village and is romantically involved with Mallika. However, he is invited to appear at King Chandragupta II's court in far-off Ujjayini. Torn between his current idyllic existence and love on one hand, and the desire to achieve greatness on the other, he leaves for Ujjayini in a conflicted state of mind. Mallika wants the best for the man she loves, so she encourages him to go to Ujjayini. In the second act, Kalidas has achieved fame and is married to a sophisticated noblewoman, Priyangumanjari, while Mallika is heartbroken and alone. Kalidas visits his village with his wife and a small retinue. He avoids meeting Mallika, but Priyangumanjari does. Priyangumanjari demeaningly offers to help Mallika by making her a royal companion and marrying her to one of the royal attendants, but Mallika declines. In the third act, Kalidas reappears in the village. Mallika ( with her mother Ambika dead )is now married to & has a daughter from Vilom, a kind of Villain whom Mallika & Kalidas always hated for questioning their relationship from a worldly perspective . Mallika learns that he has renounced his courtly life and the governorship of Kashmir that he had been granted. Kalidas comes to see Mallika but, learning of her situation, despairs. The play ends with him leaving her house abruptly. Mallika, in a soliloquy says, "Even if I did not remain in your life, you always remained in mine. I never let you wander from my side. You continued to create and I believed that I too am meaningful, that my life is also productive."
One critic has observed that each act ends "with an act of abandonment on the part of Kalidasa: when he leaves for Ujjayini alone; when he deliberately avoids meeting with Mallika during his subsequent visit to the village; when he leaves her home abruptly." The play portrays the personal price that both Kalidas and Mallika pay for his decision to reach for greatness. As Kalidas deserts Mallika and moves to Ujjayini, his creativity begins to evaporate, though his fame and power continue to rise. His wife, Priyangumanjari, struggles in vain to replicate his native surroundings but "she is no substitute for Mallika." In the final meeting between Mallika and Kalidas at the play's conclusion, Kalidas admits to Mallika "that the man she had before her was not the Kalidasa she had known." He reveals to her that "Whatever I have written has been gathered from this life. The landscape of Kumarasambhav is this Himalaya, and you are the ascetic Uma. The Yaksha's torment in Meghaduta is my own torment and you are the Yakshini crushed by longing. In Abhijnanashakumtalam, it was you whom I saw in the form of Shakuntala. Whenever I tried to write, I reiterated the history of your and my life."
Mohan Rakesh noted in the introduction to a subsequent play, King-swans of the waves, that, whenever he read Kalidas' Meghdoot, he felt that the poet had distilled out his sense of acute guilt and alienation from his own being into that play, and that this realization is what motivated Mohan Rakesh's writing of Ashadh ka ek din.
It was first performed by Kolkata-based Hindi theatre group Anamika, under director, Shyamanand Jalan (1960)  and subsequently by Ebrahim Alkazi at National School of Drama Delhi in 1962, which established Mohan Rakesh as the first modern Hindi playwright.
The authorized English translation, One Day in the Season of Rain, was authored by Aparna Dharwadker and Vinay Dharwadker in 2009. It premiered at Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin, 19 March 2010. The production then traveled to the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in East Lansing, Michigan, with performances 6–7 January 2011.
- Amaresh Datta, The Encyclopaedia Of Indian Literature, Volume 1, Sahitya Academy, 2006, ISBN 978-81-260-1803-1,
... Ashadh ka ek din (Hindi), a well-known Hindi play by Mohan Rakesh. was first published in 1958. The title of the play comes from the opening lines of the Sanskrit poet Kalidasa's long narrative poem ...
- Gabrielle H. Cody; Evert Sprinchorn (2007). The Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama, Volume 2. Columbia University Press. p. 1116. ISBN 0-231-14424-5.
- John Wakeman, World Film Directors: 1945-1985, H.W. Wilson, 1988,
... His second film, Ashad ka ek din (A Monsoon Day, 1971), was based on a play by Mohan Rakesh, a well-known contemporary Hindi ...
- Ashadh Ka Ek Din on Internet Movie Database
- Kishore C. Padhy, N. Patnaik, The challenges of tribal development, Sarup & Sons, 2000, ISBN 978-81-7625-108-2,
... goes to Ujjain and is elevated to the status of governor of Kashmir ... elaborate efforts of Priyangumanjari to reproduce for him the native environment ... she is no substitute for Mallika ... he can tell Mallika that the man she had before her was not the Kalidasa she had known ...
- Simona Sawhney, The modernity of Sanskrit, University of Minnesota Press, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8166-4996-9,
... 'Even if I did not remain in your life, you always remained in mine ...' 'Whatever I have written has been gathered from this life...' ... this portrayal of Kalidasa offended many of Rakesh's contemporaries ...
- Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker, Theatres of independence: drama, theory, and urban performance in India since 1947, University of Iowa Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-87745-961-3,
... each of the three acts in the play ends with an act of abandonment on the part of Kalidasa: when he leaves for Ujjayini alone; when he deliberately avoids meeting with Mallika during his subsequent visit to the village; when he leaves her home abruptly at the end ...
- Mohan Rakesh, Lehron ke rajhans (King-swans of the waves), Rajkamal Prakashan Pvt Ltd, 2009, ISBN 978-81-267-0851-2,
... मेघदूत पढ़ते हुए मुझे लगा करता था कि वह कहानी निर्वासित यक्ष की उतनी नहीं है, जितनी स्वयं अपनी आत्मा से निर्वासित उस कवि की जिसने अपनी ही एक अपराध-अनुभूति को इस परिकल्पना में ढाल दिया है (when I read Meghdoot, I would feel that the story was less about a dispossesed yaksh than about a poet so alienated from his own soul that he has poured his guilt-realization into this opus) ...
- Asha Kasbekar (2006). Pop culture India!: media, arts, and lifestyle. ABC-CLIO. p. 73. ISBN 1-85109-636-1.