Book Extract : The Boy Who Became The Mahatma By Rajesh Talwar

The bestselling author of The Boy Who Wrote a Constitution which received critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the PVLF Awards, comes back with another unique and exciting playwright with a contemporary feel adding to the modern-day relevance of Gandhi’s life as a young man fighting discrimination in South Africa.

In this playwright, Talwar has used a fantastic device of dramatic incidents in Gandhi’s life that are interspersed with the scenes in which five children, from present times, react to his life, struggles, and achievements in terms of their own lives and identities.


It is late afternoon, after school hours. Five children are sitting on a stage that is otherwise empty, except for a few tables, chairs and benches. The children, who are all wearing uniform, are members of the school’s Drama Society and are meeting today to decide on a suitable play to be staged by them for the school’s annual day function barely a month away.

Monica: Our last play was a big success, wasn’t it?
Karim: You mean the one on Dr Babasaheb


Monica: Yes. Everyone loved it.
Milan: Well, it’s that time of the year again now.
Sonia: Meaning?
Milan: Once again we have to stage a play,

and just like last time, it needs to be on an Indian who can be a role
model for children. Annual Day is coming up soon.

Sonia: Can’t we just do a repeat of the Ambedkar
Milan: We could, and no one would mind or

object, but shouldn’t we be challenging ourselves by enacting a
different play?

Hari: On whom? We decided last time that there was already so much

written on Mahatma Gandhi.

Milan: (thoughtfully) You know that is true, and
yet at the same time it is untrue.

Hari: What do you mean? It’s either true, or untrue.

Milan: I mean that there are hundreds if not

thousands of books on Mahatma Gandhi, but are there that many


Sonia: There are a couple of plays as a matter of fact.
Hari: Such as?
Sonia: For instance, there is Gandhi, My Father.

My parents had gone to see it.
Milan: That’s true, Sonia, but you know that’s

about the mature Gandhi, who had a grown-up son.

Sonia: And?
Milan: So just like we did a play that was focussed

on the childhood and boyhood years of Dr Ambedkar we could do
something similar with Mahatma Gandhi.

Sonia: Ah, I see what you mean.
Hari: That makes sense.
Monica: But in Dr Ambedkar’s life there were many

challenges he faced and overcame as a child, which made that play
so interesting. Do we have anything interesting about Gandhi’s

Milan: In the beginning, I thought we didn’t,

but I’ve been researching the issue online and in the school library. I
found out that this is actually not true. There exists sufficient
interesting material on Gandhi’s childhood for us to do a play on

Karim: But isn’t Gandhi too good?
Milan: What do you mean?
Karim: I meant that for our play to be a success

it must tell an interesting story. The character cannot be too good,
can he?
Monica: Karim is right.
Milan: And you both think that Gandhi could not
have done any wrong things as a child?

Hari: I’m sure he did not.
Milan: (after a pause) As a matter of fact this was

my impression too, till I started to read him – and about him. It was
a completely wrong impression.

Sonia: So, did Gandhi do bad things as a boy?
Milan: Yes, he did.

(Extracted with permission from author , publisher)

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