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Taledanda (Kannada: ತಲೆದಂಡ, Hindi: Rakt Kalyan, literally: Death by Beheading) is a 1990 Kannada play written by Girish Karnad, an eminent person in Kannada literature, about the rise of the radical protest and reform movement, Veerashaivism, in 12th century Karnataka. He was awarded the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award (1993) and the Sahitya Akademi Award in Kannada language for the play in 1994, and later awarded the Jnanpith Award for his literature work in 1998.[1][2]

About the play[edit]

Written in 1990 in the backdrop of mandir-mandal conflict, the drama draws parallel between the Socio-Religious Political and Economic condition of existing times and southern India in the 12th century A.D. during Bhakti Movement. Eight hundred years ago in the city of Kalyan a man called Basavanna assembled a congregation of poets, mystics, social revolutionaries and philosophers, unmatched for their creativity and social commitment in the history of Karnataka, even perhaps of India itself.

They opposed idolatry, rejected temple worship, upheld equality of sexes, and condemned the caste system .But event took a violent turn when they acted on their beliefs and a Brahmin girl married a 'low caste' boy.The movement ended in bloodshed .Rakt Kalyan (Tale-Danda) deals with few weeks during which a vibrant, prosperous society plunged into anarchy and terror. In Hindi it is known as Rakt-Kalyan translated by Ram Gopal Bajaj, first directed by Ebrahim Alkazi for National School of Drama and remarkable production by Arvind Gaur (1995-2008, still running) for Asmita Theater[3] Telugu translation of the play, by Bhargavi Rao won her the Sahitya Akademi Award Translation Award in 1995, given by Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.[4]

Press criticism[edit]

V M Badola (The Pioneer)

  • Among the best things that happened to the Indian theatre in the recent times is the creation of Kannada play Taledanda, Rakt Kalyan, by Girish Karnad. Arvind Gaur, the director knew the strength of the play lay in its excellent script and an equally brilliant translation, of it, into Hindi by Ram Gopal Bajaj.Arvind Gaur's main achievement was his deep understanding of the nuances of the play and his impeccable sense of choreography, which was well effected, especially during the crowd scenes .What is more, he used the basement space very imaginatively.Rakt- Kalyan (Taledanda) owes its greatness to the fact that it does not unnecessarily attempt to politicize the issue and for good reasons. Although any attempt to bring about social reformation does inevitably throw up certain political challenges it is the existing socio-religious turmoil that creates the biggest impediment and the irony is that in such circumstances, the inherent Contradictions within a social structure come into the play. Emotion supersedes reason which consequently hurts the cause.Watching Asmita's Rakt Kalyan, became apparent that lack of resources need not come in the way of good presentation, given the dedication and commitment of the actors and the director

Romesh chander(The Hindu)

  • Girish Karnad's Rakt Kalyan (Taledanda)is a superb play, which well illustrates how man has not learnt from history... it is remarkable for Gaur's handling of large crowd scenes...and for underlining the relevance of the play set in 12th century in south India to the present day socio-political atmosphere in the country...like asmita's earlier productions Rakt Kalyan is mounted on a bare stage without The frills of period costumes with emphasis on the socio-political relevance of the play and in this production succeeds admirably

Javed Malik (Times of India)

  • Play is a complex and incisive investigation of an actual historical experiment in social reordering and its tragic failure on the individual as well as the collective level ...Asmita's Rakt Kalyan endeavors to foreground the play's political implications particularly in relation to caste.interesting piece of theatre…it is remarkable for director Arvind Gaur's skillful handling of the large cast in terms of blocking and movement.

Kavita Nagpal (Hindustan Times)

  • Girish wrote the play in 1989 when the mandir and masjid movements were beginning to show how relevant the questions posed in the 12th century are Today. The anger of society, unwilling to abandon the safety net of the caste system, turns to frenzy when a Brahmin sharana girl is married to a chamar sharana boy. They are lynched and kalyan is rift with war cries...Arvind Gaur repeated his Tughlaq technique. Bare sets, symbolic costumes, letting words and characters hold the reins of dramatic power.Bright scenes of lucid argument.House was packed and very responsive.


  1. Manu Rishi(Filmfare Best Dialogue Award), Deepak Dobriyal, Shilpa Shukla, Seema Azmi, Shalini Vatsa acted in this play with Arvind Gaur.

Further reading[edit]

  • Collected Plays: Taledanda, the Fire and the Rain, the Dreams of Tipu Sultan, Flowers and Images: Two Dramatic Monologues Volume 2, by Girish Karnad. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0-19-567311-5.



  1. ^ "Sahitya Akademi Awards listings". Sahitya Akademi, Official website. 
  2. ^ AWARDS: The multi-faceted playwright Frontline (magazine), Vol. 16, No. 03, Jan. 30 - Feb. 12, 1999.
  3. ^ Drama critics. "Girish Karnad's Tale-Danda(Rakt Kalyan)". Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  4. ^ Awards and Fellowships- Translation Awards "Sahitya Akademi Awards" Check |url= value (help). Sahitya Akademi.