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1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
In this modern, funny and futuristic play, Trial by Mischief by Bahadur Tejani, a new Sikh immigrant from India to America takes on the mighty American establishment and scores 6-0.

The American medical, legal, military, academic, religious and musical establishments take over his name, his body, soul and identity on the first day of his first job in his new country. They try and reduce him to the status of a nobody, reserved for all newcomers to New York. But by using his native wits and the faith, spirit and discipline of a Khalsa warrior in tune with the daily rhythms of urban India, the Sardarji triumphs over all of them. The final score is 6-0 in his favour.

This game is possible in the world of Tejani's literary imagination where the universe is an endless playground.

Trial by Mischief is Tejani's eighth and latest play published as a part of his collected works in Laughing in the Face of Terrorism. It is also the first play written and set in America by an East African-Indian and it is interesting to look at the farce for the insights it provides on Tejani's aim and artistic effect, especially as the President of America begins his visit to India. In Trial by Mischief Tejani has set out to prove to the world that the cultural traditions and the wisdom of grand mother India, left behind by his Gujarati father in the 1930s for Africa, these traditions are an equal match for the complexity and the cunning of modern America.

The plot is simple. The main character, Sardar Makhan Singh, is mistaken for a follower of Osama Bin Ladan because of his beard and turban.
The building where he works as a receptionist is vacated due to a bomb scare and during the exodus, the officials, a doctor, judge, professor, priest, general and musician, prevail upon the Sardar to mind their offices. He does this with the great aplomb of a new immigrant, on his first day of his first job in a new country. Thus he gets to role play as a doctor, a general, a priest, a professor, a judge and a musician - all in one day. There is a mix up between the commandments and amendments; between Habeas corpus and has been a corpse. This leads to many such hilarious situations.

In a delightfully absurd moment, the Sardar, acting as the General, convinces the army intelligence unit to accept his black tiffin lunch box as a decoy and substitute for the real black box which contains the codes for firing nuclear missiles. His logic? It will show the Russians that we are as ready for lunch as we are for war. Throughout the play, he takes the audience into his confidence and keeps the play-goers aware of his mischief so that the audience is on his side. With his native wits, he improvises getting out of the various jams and survives the tricky role playing successfully. At the end of the day, he is even given a promotion for a job well done. Thus encouraged by the reward, he decides to dedicate his life to teach the Americans how to speak English properly! It is a problem which he has discovered due to his extensive interaction with the public.

Dr. Bahadur Tejani is well known as a writer and scholar from East Africa, where he was born in 1942 and spent the first thirty two years of his life. He is the author of seven plays, a collection of poems, The Rape of Literature, a novel, Day After Tomorrow, short stories and articles on African literature. The ascendancy of Indian and African cultures in the modern age is a main goal in Tejani's writing. It was the theme of his first comedy, The Other Side of the Coin,produced in 1976 in Vancouver, Canada. Here he has a robust Mahatma Gandhi declaring to Churchill that he has come to London to give Great Britain its independence, because the British are too dependent on India. In Trial by Mischief the Indian immigrant is seen as smart, capable and sociable and quite able to face the onslaught of American norms, culture and personality. And win hands down.

Read more: http://society.ezinemark.com/nri-si...and-scores-6-0-16cbfe8ac45.html#ixzz145CijaPI
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