The Last Durbar: The Division of British India

Joshi, Shashi
Oxford University Press, USA
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From Barnes and "The existing histories of the Partition have very little chance of capturing the moods and mindsets, the helplessness and frustrations, the anguish and final despair of those that steered the course. The histories written thus far have either focused on political narratives or ideological analysis. More recently, the spotlight has turned towards the madness and pathology of mass murders and hates. This play tells it as it was—without the epic dimensions of conventional writing filled with the rhetoric of freedom and greatness, and also without the legalese and constitution-making vocabulary of the "Transfer of Power". The personal and political meet and separate as the Last Durbar with Louis Mountbatten on the throne and the modern, constitutional Durbaris proclaim a republic and bid farewell to each other. The play is based on the private papers of Mountbatten, including verbatim records and testimonies, discussions and suggestions of the leading Indian actors. It is a nuanced and multi-layered account of the months and days that led to the partition of British India. It exposes the palpable relationships of the leading actors in this drama, the moves and the counter moves, interactions and maneuverings between a range of characters, against the backdrop of momentous events and developments."