Kids Corner


A Play That Inspired Me





I saw a performance of the play, 'Kultar's Mime' in Toronto last week.

I was in awe of the play. It inspired me to find out more about the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide.

Before reviewing the play, I feel it necessary to cover what I discovered in my research.

The 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms were an orchestrated genocide following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister of India, when two of her bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh -- both Sikh -- killed her. Beant Singh shot three rounds into her abdomen, quickly followed by Satwant Singh, completing their task with 30 rounds from his sten gun, after which her lifeless body tumbled on the ground.

The two men responsible for the death Indira Gandhi were reacting personally to Operation Blue Star, the military operation ordered by Indira Gandhi to attack Harmandar Sahib, the most sacred place of Sikh worship, to supposedly remove Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from the premises.

Sant Jarnail Singh was an advocate for Sikh causes, particularly notable for his denunciation of the Indian constitution’s Article 25 mischievously and erroneously declaring that minorities in India such as Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists were merely part of Hinduism.

Operation Blue Star led to the death of several thousand pilgrims -- innocent Sikh men, women and children -- and heavy damage to the gurdwara complex. 

Indira’s son, Rajiv Gandhi became the next prime minister of India. He ordered the carnage of Sikhs in 1984 to take revenge for his mother’s death.

In the play, ‘Kultar’s Mime‘, the actors are depicting what happened in the massacre of 1984 in India’s capital, New Delhi, when a mute and deaf boy who lives in a poor neighborhood, Tilak Vihar, sees his parents, friends, and people that he knows get raped, killed, and tormented.

I found that the actors in the play, ‘Kultar’s Mime‘, did a splendid job on taking the roles of real people and personifying them in order to cater to mass audiences and make such a profound story comprehensible.

Additionally, it was a prodigious idea to associate the pogrom that happened in Kishinev earlier in the century, affecting the Jews, to the pogrom in Delhi targeting the Sikhs.

In order to make this play more comprehensible and logical for a larger variety of audiences, I believe it would be necessary to further incorporate the pogrom in Kishinev and to discreetly provide the commonalities and differences between the two pogroms for the audience to relate to.

To further elaborate, I personally comprehended the Shakespearean text at the beginning of the play and believed that it provided a touch of finesse and eloquence and it should be retained.

However, it should have been summarized serenely in the latter part of the play in order to appeal to the majority community in the audience. In addition, I believe that if the characters had been articulated to the audience earlier on in the play, the confusion might have been limited in order to provide a clearer story line.

The props used in the play in fact aided the audience in understanding the play and were conveniently used without hindering the story line and provided a basis for the audience to relate to making the characters more obvious.

In conclusion, I believe that the play, ‘Kultar’s Mime‘ correctly depicted what happened in 1984, as well as used a great variety of props in order to exemplify the genocide.

I also feel that in order to allow audiences with little to no knowledge about the pogrom in 1984 to clearly appreciate the play, it would be necessary to simplify the Shakespearean text at the beginning of the play, further incorporate the pogrom in Kishinev, and articulate the characters and their stories at the beginning of the play.

Aekus Singh, 12, is a student at UTS (University of Toronto Schools), an independent secondary day school affiliated with the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

October 26, 2014

Conversation about this article

1: Naina (Delhi, India), October 26, 2014, 1:11 PM.

The summary of this play by Aekus, aged 12 years, is remarkable. The pogroms of 1984 are part of our brave history of martyrdom. The mobs killed the Sikh males despite their age. They were free to loot anything which they could carry, and were in fact rewarded by the government for their crimes by being waived the TV license fee they were normally required to pay.

2: Banno Kaur Bajaj (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), October 26, 2014, 1:37 PM.

Excellent analysis, Aekus. Lots of interesting ideas. It gives one much food for thought. Keep up the good work!

3: Jassi & Aman (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), October 26, 2014, 2:29 PM.

These are very impressive details coming from a 12 year old. As he didn't just write about the play but also covered the summary of all the events leading to this pogrom. Our kids in the West are not exposed to this truth because we normally don't discuss these kinds of events at home. I feel these kids are ready and can make their own decisions. We also saw the play and felt the same. All the characters were excellently presented. Watching the play, we again went through the same feelings that we had experienced many years ago. After reading this review from a young boy's perspective, we feel that this play has achieved what it set out to do.

4: Jag Mohan Singh Chawla (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), October 30, 2014, 3:04 AM.

Excellent presentation of a very important historical event by a 12 year old. Keep up the good work, Aekus. I see a prosperous and bright future ahead of you.

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