- Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
- Sisir Bose- Netaji’s nephew
- Mian Akbar Shah- leader of the Forward Bloc Party
- Policeman 1
- Policeman 2
(The stage is empty and dark with the curtains down, the narrator speaks from backstage)
Narrator: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose had been imprisoned by the British in July 1940 and had to appear before the British Court on January 26, 1941. He wanted to seek foreign help for India’s freedom struggles but knew very well that such a feat was impossible sitting in a prison in Calcutta. So, Netaji starts a ‘fast until death’, in prison. When his health started to deteriorate, the British Government was forced to grant him bail, and Netaji was moved to his home and put under House Arrest with men from Bengal CID guarding the Bose Residence. They even had spies placed inside the house including some of his relatives to monitor his every move. In his residence, Netaji decides his next moves very carefully and as a part of his plan, he started growing his beard.
(The curtains are drawn; Netaji Bose is seen seated at a wooden table with a table lamp, thinking and writing a telegram)
He cautiously sent a telegram to his Forward Bloc ally Mian Akbar Shah in the northern-west frontier province. The telegram read- “Reach Calcutta” and was signed by him.
(The stage dims and Netaji exits the stage)
(Enter Netaji and Sisir Bose dressed casually in home attire; they seemed to have a light-hearted conversation)
Netaji: Well Sir, I was thinking to ask this for quite a long time. How well do you know to drive Sisir?
Sisir: Not very well Uncle, I’m just 20 years old and know just the basic. I have never even driven to the outskirts of Calcutta. Why Uncle?
Netaji: Well…that’s great Sisir.
(Netaji seemed to be lost in thought and Sisir gives a blank expression; the stage is dimmed and characters exit the stage)
(Stage is empty and the narrator speaks from the backstage)
Narrator: Mian Akbar Shah boards a night train from Peshawar to Calcutta and decides to meets Netaji at the Bose Residence.
(Stage is lit; enter Netaji along with Mian Akbar Shah. They are seated at his table engrossed in a deep discussion)
Netaji: Shah…I intend to go abroad through the tribal territories of Kabul. I know you have done this before. You have to help me.
Shah: I do not intend to argue with you, but the task is nearly impossible. (in deep thought)
Netaji: I will disguise myself as a Pashtun insurance agent.
Shah: But you don’t speak Pashto. You will certainly draw suspicion.
Netaji: I can act deaf and dumb. This is far too important, not for me, but our nation. I will wear a black sherwani and have already grown a beard.
Shah: Very well…I suggest you should go by the name of Ziauddin. You should travel to Peshawar by train from Calcutta…but how will escape from these many people monitoring your single move.
Netaji: Plans…have to be cautiously devised. It is time to rise and do something for the freedom of our motherland.
(Stage is dimmed; all role-players exit stage)
(Stage is empty, and the narrator speaks from the backstage)
Narrator: The men concluded that the best way of escape from Calcutta was from Netaji’s house itself. Mian Akbar Shah leaves Calcutta and returns to the North-West Frontier Province as per the plan. Netaji made an announcement that he is isolating himself within the house. The patrollers don’t pay much attention to this. On 16th January 1941, Netaji finally executes his plan. Amidst the cold winter night, Netaji disguised as Ziauddin, Sisir, and two other cousins prepare themselves to carry out the plan.
(Stage is lit; Sisir, Netaji and Cousin are seen silently awaiting. A cough can be heard in the background, this is from the other trusted cousin)
Sisir: Uncle, that’s our signal, I believe the path is clear. It’s 1.35am…we have to move now.
Narrator: Netaji takes one last look at his study and leaves the room with the others silently.
(the role-players exit the stage and stage are dimmed. The setting is changed to the porch of the house with a car on the left and a gate on the right end of the stage. Two policemen are standing by the gate; the stage is lighted once more)
Netaji: (whispers) It’s a full moon night. We shouldn’t be casting shadows. Be careful.
(Sisir puts Netaji’s luggage in the front seat and joins his cousin to open the gates. Netaji is seen entering the rear passenger seat but does not close his door. The policemen are questioning Sisir and the cousin)
Policeman 1: Where are you both off to?
Sisir: To my brother’s house.
Policeman 2: Okay…is he going to accompany you? (points toward the cousin)
Cousin: No…I was just seeing him off.
Narrator: The policemen did not find anything suspicious. They let Sisir go.
(Sisir walks back to the car and gets in)
Sisir: (faintly audible) 1…2…3… (and both Netaji and Sisir shuts the door quickly. Netaji hides under the car seat and is not visible to the audience)
(The make-shift car is moved fast across the stage and the narration continues)
Narrator: Sisir drives past the two policemen in a black German Wanderer Sedan and the policemen see only Sisir in the car. The escapers take the longer route and drive towards the Howrah Bridge instead of the generally used Willingdon bridge because the bridge had a toll booth. Following the Grand Trunk Road, Sisir and Netaji drive towards Sisir’s brother’s house, from where Netaji travels to the North-Western Province the next day, completely baffling the British authorities and the Bengal CIDs.
This was a short skit that depicted the great escape of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose when under House Arrest in 1941. Hope you all had enjoyed it.