A revamped portrayal of ‘Refugee crisis’ is garnered in Indian
English Theatre with the publication of “The Refugee” by Asif Currimbhoy. This
paper analyses the situation of refugees through the two characters (refugees)
mainly Yasin and Ramul and underpins today’s one of the most important issues,
the migrants/refugees, thus identifies the status of the refugees then and now.
 It depicts the acceptance and inclusion
of refugees and tackles humanitarian concerns so far exclusively denounced by
realist narratives. This article attempts to discuss the historicist’s perception
of analyzing and author’s realist view is used to bring out the inhuman
treatment of refugees Yasin and Ramul in the so called civilized World. And thus,
tries to highlight Indian English playwrights for their contribution to the
Indian Theatre.

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Key Words: Refugee, Indian English
Drama, Literature and History, Realism, Refugees’ socio- economic development.


Background study about the text:

we see the history of any country, it may be a venture from the Layman’s
viewpoint that can possibly step on some toes and offend sensibilities to boot,
the political conception of, or methodical approach to history is
blinkered.  History is too superficially
defined. Or rather, it is too lopsided in its thematic drift. History in any manner
should not be limited merely to text books. After 71 years of Indian independence,
we need to provide answers to a few questions: Where are we? Why our generation
is not termed as the ‘happiest generation ever lived’?

In spite of the exquisite investigation on the identification of
the implications of Indian history, the majority tried to comprehend it
likewise. Following a distinctive prospect, the current intension is to
correlate History to literature. In view of the fact that “Literature” is
somehow accountable for repositioning the Nation’s factual ‘history’, we take
into account the instance of the literary contrivance of “Theatre”. The
disregard of the past by the Youth of India triggered an imminent deficiency to
indoctrinate ‘the (past) pride of the country’ by discerning their perspective
and motivating their involvement in the reformation of the Nation. Indian
English Theatre is the most influential and evocative ‘literary’ implementation
as it nurtures erudition amid natives and is continually associated and
reminiscent of the community’s ‘socio-cultural experiences’.

Purging certain social iniquities has become obligatory from the fictitious
history. A paradigm would be the Bangladesh liberation war (1971) whose
political and religious insinuations constituted the backdrop of Indian English
Writer Asif Currimbhoy’s creation “The
Refugee”. On laconic terms, subsequent to the departure of the British, August
1947 witnessed the official birth of the two states of Pakistan and India (The Sydney Morning Herald 1947) with
each state apparently supposed to provide stable homes for Muslims and  Hindus. The Dominion of
Pakistan constituted of two geographically and culturally disconnected
regions to the east and the west having India in between (Genocide in Bangladesh, 1971). The
western precinct was termed as West Pakistan whereas the eastern zone (currently
Bangladesh) was originally called East Bengal and afterwards,
East Pakistan. While population of the two zones was almost equivalent still it
resulted in opinionated remarks of economically exploiting East Pakistan and
indictment on grounds that political power was mostly concentrated in West
Pakistan. Administration of two disjointed territories was also seen as a
challenge. On 25 March 1971, after an election won by an East Pakistani
political party (the Awami League)
was ignored by the ruling (West Pakistani) establishment, political discontent
and cultural
nationalism rose indefinitely in East Pakistan. So this play is very
important in each and every context of India viz., its history,
Bangladesh-refugee and Pakistan-refugee. Theatre is an effectual tool to
address the issues of societal importance. Asif Currimbhoy uses this tool to interwaeves
both history and literary text together and makes the theme and techniques
quite appealing.

Cogitating on theatre, the magazine India Today issued a
fascinating article on Jan 26, 2004 entitled ‘Dramatic Revival’ written by Nirmala Ravindran. She talks of this
generation moving away from malls and Play Stations towards theatre, seeking ‘the archaic thrill of the stage’ which ‘the culture watchers are calling the second
coming of theatre’. Undoubtedly, Theatre is often acknowledged as living
history predominantly in India as it ratifies great epics, true stories and
dramatic literature of the highest category. Interlacing the Indian history and
its rich literature is the correct approach of acquainting the rest of the
world with our magnificent past linked with bright future. Greenblatt, (2005),
one of the founder-proponent of new historicism, considers that literary
histories require concentrating more on ‘accidental judgments’ and other upsetting
forces rather than untreated description and intellectual authenticity that ‘shape the history of languages’. We
should never forget that a language slip often crosses borders and is mostly unpredictable
and uncontrollable. Doubtlessly theatre is the most attractive and effective
tool to attain indispensable social and political changes in undemocratic,
politically and culturally unstable countries (Eugene Van Erven, 1922).


and its relevance to “The Refugee”

Based on the history of the Bangladesh war,
Pakistan refugees’ status in the year 1970, as given by Greenblatt (2005) lays
down four ‘enabling presumptions’ of
new historicism in the genre which have acquired the force of law. As said by
him “Literature has a historical base and literary works are not the products
of a single consciousness but many social and cultural forces”. In the play ‘The Refugee”, we see the cultural
contradictions between the host country people and refugees who came for
shelter as well as a lack of humanitarianism while treating the refugees.