Book Review: ‘Doongaji House: Selected Plays’ by Cyrus Mistry

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Book Title: Doongaji House: Selected Plays
Author: Cyrus Mistry
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Number of Pages: 252
ISBN: 978-9393852731
Date Published: Jul. 05, 2023
Price: INR 475

Doongaji House Selected Plays by Cyrus Mistry Book Cover

Book Review

Cyrus Mistry, an accomplished Indian author, and playwright, won the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for his acclaimed novel, Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer. Hailing from Mumbai, Mistry’s diverse talents span playwriting, journalism, and short-story writing. With his recent literary triumph and recognition, Mistry continues to captivate readers with his powerful narratives and profound insights into the human condition, solidifying his place as a celebrated figure in contemporary Indian literature.

This book “Doongaji House: Selected Plays”, published by Aleph Book Company, showcases the remarkable works of acclaimed playwright Cyrus Mistry, encompassing his most notable plays. The collection features the award-winning play Doongaji House, which received the prestigious Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting in 1978. Set within the decaying walls of a Mumbai mansion, the play delves into the trials and tribulations of a Parsi family, navigating the complexities of their existence.

Another striking addition to the collection is The Legacy of Rage, a searing exploration of an East Indian family grappling with internal strife over their inheritance. Against societal transformations that have pushed them to the brink of poverty, Mistry skillfully unravels the dynamics and conflicts within this dysfunctional family.

In addition, the publication includes A Flowering of Disorder, a play presented to the world for the first time. Set in the bustling city of Mumbai, this work delves into the ridiculous and profound predicaments faced by middle-class families as they strive to navigate the challenges of urban life. With incisive wit and depth, Mistry unravels the intricacies and paradoxes that underpin Indian middle-class society.

Collectively, these brilliant plays expose the vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and contradictions that lie at the core of Indian middle-class existence. Mistry’s writing illuminates the complexities of familial relationships and societal pressures, offering readers an introspective journey into the inner lives of his characters.

A play review encompasses more than a casual observation; it involves a critical examination and systematic analysis of the theatrical performance and a thoughtful critique of its overall impact. It requires understanding the drama, appreciating the interpretation, and articulating an informed response to the director’s vision. Writing a play review combines analytical and creative skills to engage readers and provide a holistic understanding, with elements such as an introduction, plot summary, production analysis, performance critique, staging commentary, and a concluding assessment.

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In this book’s review, I picked up Doongaji House to review with all the means and knowledge I gained after watching the play online.
Set in 1970s Mumbai, Doongaji House, a play by Cyrus Mistry, explores a Parsi family’s life in a crumbling mansion. Mistry skillfully captures the challenges faced by the Parsi community during this transformative era, from dwindling numbers to assimilation into Indian society.

The play’s standout feature is its portrayal of strong female characters, exemplified by the resilient protagonist, Darabshaa, who defies societal norms and embodies the changing role of women within the Parsi community. This adds richness and captivation to the narrative, making Doongaji House a compelling and insightful theatrical experience.

In conclusion, “Doongaji House: Selected Plays” is a testament to Mistry’s immense talent as a playwright. With vivid storytelling and nuanced portrayals, he explores the myriad facets of human nature, reflecting the universal struggles and dilemmas that resonate beyond cultural boundaries. This collection is an invaluable addition to contemporary Indian drama, inviting readers to contemplate the intricacies of human existence through the lens of Mistry’s exceptional works.

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