Review of Ashadh Ka Ek Din by Mohan Rakesh

Ashadh Ka Ek Din (Hindi: आषाढ़ का एक दिन, One Day in the season of rain) is a debut Hindi play by Mohan Rakesh in 1958. Since the month of Ashadh (beginning on 22 June and ending on 22 July) is usually the onset period of the monsoon in North India, the name can be understood to mean One day during the Monsoon. The title of the play derives from the opening line of the Sanskrit dramatist Kalidas's play Meghadūta (Sanskrit: मेघदूत literally "cloud (Megh) messenger (Doot)").

The play is divided into three acts.

First Act:

The love of poet Kalidas and Mallika is not approved by Mallika's mother, Ambika. At this time, Kalidas has composed his first long poem Ritusambar. He wins recognition in the court of Ujjaini and the king has sent his horsemen to bring him. Another villager by the name of Vilom (also interested in Mallika) says that if Kalidas leaves for Ujjaini, he must take Mallika along. Kalidas, however, does not wish to go from the mountain-valley where they all stay. Finally, Mallika persuades him to leave.

Second Act:

A few years have passed. Kalidas, a great poet now, is passing through his native valley with his queen Priyagumanjari on his way to Kashmir. The queen meets Mallika. Kalidas, however, does not visit them. Mallika's mother is not surprised. Vilom is.

Third Act:

Mallika's mother (Ambika) has died. Mallika has given in to Vilom and she has a child by him. Just then Kalidas returns. He finds that the life of Mallika, the drunkard Vilom, and the child is complete without him. After an explanation of his own life and an encounter with Vilom, he leaves the palce, while Mallika goes in to attend the crying child.


The main lead character of the story is Malika. Are you surprised that it is not Kalidas? But Mallika is the heart and soul of the story. She gives up everything even her love for Kalidasa so that he becomes successful. She is his inspiration. She shows how true love should be. Maillka’s love is inspiring, unquestioning, devoted, sacrificing and she ask nothing in return.

Even though Kalidas marries queen Priyangumanjari, Mallika remians  his only love and inspiration. Kalidas Says to Mallika

“The backdrop of Kumarshambhav is this Himalaya and the ascetic Uma is you. The pain of Yaksha of Meghdoot is my pain and the the bruised by separation Yakshini is you- even though I imagined myself here and you in the city. Only you were in front of me as Shakuntala of “Abhigyan Shakuntalam”.

Mallika is the epitome of love. She is a metaphor of true love.

Kalidasa is neither good nor bad. He is extremely talented but he is afraid and a coward. In village he vows never to marry and on that pretext he does not marry Mallika. He is called to Ujjaini, but initially he does not go because he is not confident that after seeing poverty how will he behave in affluence. And his fears prove correct. He marries Priyangumanjri and becomes King of Kashmir. But he is never able to forget Mallika. Finally when he come again to her she is married with a kid. Then he says

“Kalidas: I said I wanted to start over. This was the fight between desire and time. But now is see that time is much more powerful because…
Mallika : Because?
Kalidas: Because it does not wait.”

Such a profound truth. Time waits for no one. Not even for the great poet Kalidasa.

Vilom seems to be a villain on surface but he is not. He is s metaphor of an average person who lacks talent and thus he is bitter. Because of this bitterness he says things to hurt others whereas talented people like Kalidas camouflage that in fancy words.   

Vilom: Who is Vilom? An unsuccessful Kalidasa. And Kalidasa? A successful Vilom. Both of us are cery near to each other.
Kalidas: Indeed. All opposites are very near to each other.
Vilom: It is good that you accept this truth.

Priyangumanjari is a typical upper class spoilt brat who thinks they can buy anything with money. She is arrogant, well read and bred and feels Mallika is a threat. She unsuccessfully tries to bribe her and marry her off to her servants.

Matul and Ambika are elders who have betterment of their wards in heart and think they know better.

Rangini and Sngini and Anuswar and Anunasik provide comic relief and also they are a caricature of pseudo intellectual middle class society and typical red tapism.

Use of Imagery, Symbols, Metaphors

This is a must read for literature lovers. Mohan Rakesh evokes powerful imagery.

Rainy day means some tragedy is about to arrive.
Entry of Ambika with lightning shows terror.
The fading voice of Kalidasa foot beautifully shows that Mallika and he can never unite.

Sample this powerful imagery of a crying baby which shows they can never unite;

Kalidas: Life is still left. We can start over.
The baby starts crying.
Kalidasa: Mallika!
Mallika looks at him.
Kalidasa: Who is crying?
Mallika: This is my present.

This one sentence says it all. Baby has come and there is no chance left for their union.

The most powerful metaphor is when he describes an epic written by her tears.

Kalidasa: You made these papers by your own hands so that I will create my greatest epic on these.
He flips the papers and then stops
There are water drops at many places which is not rain drops undoubtedly. Apparently you have written so much with your eyes on these blank papers. And not only with eyes, these have become dirty with perspiration at many places, dry flower petals have left their mark at many places. Your nails has pared them at many places, your teeth and bitten. Apart from this color of summer’s sun, paper dust of winter and dampness of this home… come these papers are blank now Mallika? An epic has been written on these.

The cruelty of poverty as told by Mallika:

Mallika: You have written that one shortcoming is camouflaged by a group of virtues as stigma is camouflaged in moon light; but poverty can not be hidden. Even in hundreds of virtues. Not only it is not hidden, it shadows those hundreds of virtues- it destroys them one by one.


This is a path breaking Hindi play. It is supposed to be a historical romance. But that is oversimplification. It is not a play which glorifies past or dwells just in the emotions of love. It has love, hate, satire, reality, comedy and pretty much everything else.
It is set in an ancient period but it can be set easily in any era. We have memorable characters like Kalidasa, Mallika, Priyangumanjari, Vilom etc all around us. A must read for all those who like quality literature. It has been staged extensively.

A parting shot:

The condition of Kalidasa in final act is quiet similar to a gem from Jagjit Singh immortal ghazals written by Majaz Lakhnawi..

अब मेरे पास तुम आई हो तो क्या आई हो?

मैने माना के तुम इक पैकर-ए-रानाई हो
चमन-ए-दहर में रूह-ए-चमन आराई हो
तलत-ए-मेहर हो फ़िरदौस की बरनाई हो
बिन्त-ए-महताब हो गर्दूं से उतर आई हो

मुझसे मिलने में अब अंदेशा-ए-रुसवाई है
मैने खुद अपने किये की ये सज़ा पाई है

ख़ाक में आह मिलाई है जवानी मैने
शोलाज़ारों में जलाई है जवानी मैने
शहर-ए-ख़ूबां में गंवाई है जवानी मैने
ख़्वाबगाहों में गंवाई है जवानी मैने

हुस्न ने जब भी इनायत की नज़र ड़ाली है
मेरे पैमान-ए-मोहब्बत ने सिपर ड़ाली है

उन दिनों मुझ पे क़यामत का जुनूं तारी था
सर पे सरशरी-ओ-इशरत का जुनूं तारी था
माहपारों से मोहब्बत का जुनूं तारी था
शहरयारों से रक़ाबत का जुनूं तारी था

एक बिस्तर-ए-मखमल-ओ-संजाब थी दुनिया मेरी
एक रंगीन-ओ-हसीं ख्वाब थी दुनिया मेरी

क्या सुनोगी मेरी मजरूह जवानी की पुकार
मेरी फ़रियाद-ए-जिगरदोज़ मेरा नाला-ए-ज़ार
शिद्दत-ए-कर्ब में ड़ूबी हुई मेरी गुफ़्तार
मै के खुद अपने मज़ाक़-ए-तरब आगीं का शिकार

वो गुदाज़-ए-दिल-ए-मरहूम कहां से लाऊँ
अब मै वो जज़्बा-ए-मासूम कहां से लाऊँ

ہو اب میرے پاس تم آیؑی ہو تو کیا آیؑی
ab mere paas tum aayee ho to kya aayee ho
(You have come to me now .. it is too late !)

میں نے مانا کہ تم اک پیکر ے رنایؑی ہو
maiN ne maana ke tum ik paikar-e-raanayee ho
(I confess that you are an embodiment of beauty !)

چمن -ے - دہر میں ، روح چمن آراییؑ  ہو
chaman-e-daher meiN rooh-e-chaman-arayee ho
(You are the soul of this beautiful garden of the earth !)

طلت-ے- مہر ہو ، فردوس کی برناییؑ ہو
tallat-e-meher ho firdaus ki barnai ho
(You have a gentle face and youth of paradise !)

بنت-ے-مہتاب ہو، گردوں سے اتر آییؑ ہو
bint-e-mehtaab ho gardooN se utar aayee ho
(You are the daughter of the Moon and have come down from the heavens !)

مجھ سے ملنے میں اب اندیشہ-ے- رسواٰییؑ ہے
Mujh se milne meiN ab andesha-e-ruswaayee hai
(If you meet me now, there are chances of being dishonourable !)

میں نے خود اپنے کیےؑ کی سزا پاییؑ ہے
maiN ne khud apne kiye ki ye saza paayee hai
(I am facing the punishment of what I have done !)
اب میرے پاس تم آیؑی ہو تو کیا آیؑی ہو
ab mere paas tum aayee ho to kya aayee ho
ان دنوں مجھ پہ قیامت کا جنوں طاری تھا
un dinon mujh pe qayamat ka junooN taari thaa
(Those days (when you loved me) I was intoxicated with my youth !)

سر پہ سرشاری-و-عشرت کا جنوں طاری تھا
sar pe sarshaari-o-ishrat ka junooN taari thaa
(I was obsessed with merry- making !)

ماہ پاروں سے محبت کا جنوں طاری تھا
maah-paaroN se mohabbat ka junooN taari thaa
(I was infatuated with the love of beautiful women !)

شہر یارون سے رقابت کا جنوں تاری تھا
shehr yaaroN se raqabat ka junooN taari thaa
(I was possessed with the enmity of my rivals !)

بستر-ے-مخمل-و-سنجاب تھی دنیا میری
bistar-e-makhmal-o-sanjaab thee duniya meri
(My life was fixated with the beautiful beds of velvet and fur !)

اک رنگین-و-حسین خواب تھی دنیا میری
ik rangeen-o-haseen khwaab thee duniya meri
(My life was like a colorful and a beautiful dream !)
کیا سنو گی میری مجروح جوانی کی پکار
kya suno gi meri majrooh jawaani ki pukaar
(I do not want to describe to you my injured youth !)

میری فریاد-ے-جگر دوز میرا لالا-ے-زار
meri fariyaad-e-jigar- doz mera lala-e-zaar
(I do not want to tell you) my laments and moans !)

شدت-ے-کرب میں ڈوبی ہوییؑ میری گفتار
shiddhat-e-karb meiN doobi hui meri guftaar
(and) my talking full of agony and anguish !)

میں کہ خود اپنے مزاق-ے- تربغی کا شکار
maiN ke khud apne mazak-e-tarbgee ka shikaar
(I am the victim of my self-deceit !)

وہ گداز-ے-دل-ے-مغمون کہاں سے لاوؑں
woh gudaaz-e-dil-e-magmoom kahan se laaooN
(From where should I bring softness of distraught heart?)

اب میں وہ جزبہ-ے-معصوم کہان سے لاوؑں
ab mein wo zazba-e-masoom kahan se laaooN
(How I can create the feelings of Innocence !)
اب میرے پاس تم آیؑی ہو تو کیا آیؑی ہو
ab mere pass tum aayee ho to kya aayee ho


  1. this is so different from Suraj ka satvan ghoda. The only similarity is that eventually it's the reality which takes over the dreamy nature of romance and love. But that's the truth. Most love stories summarise at happy endings but what happens after that is also the part of story

  2. Comedy (hindi sukhant) is happy ending and tragedy (hindi dukhant) is sad ending in literature. Most of the hindi literature is Dukhant including this one. If by happy ending you mean marriage, that's again a joke ;). Coz real trouble starts with that only. Just kidding. On serious note kalidas is too selfish and opportunistic to marry a poor mallika and instaed he chooses a princess priyangumanjari. In literature if I have to choose one character to marry or fall in love with i will choose Mallika anytime.

  3. Can you share the pdf of this play in English

  4. The way you penned down the summary of the play actually took me on a tour to the world of Kalidasa and I recalled the stories I read and heard from my mom about Kalidasa and then Sakuntala. I was a child then so there were many cuts in the story which ma narrated to give the gist. But ur review highlighted many such points which are new to me. Thank u so much

  5. This is such a detailed explaination!
    I am really glad that you shared this

  6. I have always been so mesmerized by love stories... This is definitely going in my tbr.

  7. This is the first time I am reading you and I am feeling an amazing vibe really great to see your writing and style of depiction. Coming to the book, I will definitely read this as I got confidence after reading yours review. Very nicely you have shown the acts portion.


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