How did Jung Bahadur die?Sonam Gyalmo, a play that dramatises one of the myths surrounding Jung Bahadur Rana’s demise, is currently being staged at Shilpee Theatre in Battisputali in Kathmandu.
Sonam Gyalmo, a play that dramatises one of the myths surrounding Jung Bahadur Rana’s demise, is currently being staged at Shilpee Theatre in Battisputali in Kathmandu.
The play is written by journalist Phulman Bal and directed by Sonam Moktan, who also plays the title role in the play.
There is divided opinion among historians about Rana’s death—some have concluded he died because of a tiger attack, while others speculate he passed away after violently coughing up blood—Sonam Gyalmo is structured around the myth that speculates that Jung Bahadur was hacked to death by a vengeful husband, incensed by his wife eloping with the prime minister.
The drama also weaves into its interplay various rituals popular in Tamang communities, such as the chardam custom, which drives the plot forward.
Speaking to the Post, playwright Bal said that the play is the outcome of his quest to find out the reality of a story that he heard as a child. “Growing up, I was touched by this particular story and was inspired to find out if this is only a fictional rendition or recorded history. Then I came across several myths and alternative histories surrounding Rana’s death. And while researching I found out that the alternative history about the ‘jar’ (a person who elopes with your wife) was the most authentic.”
Sonam Gyalmo the play starts at a modern-day Tamang marriage ceremony, where that very history about Rana is being recited. The play then takes the audience back in time and the events from history are enacted.
“While the drama plays around this certain alternative history, it doesn’t, however, purport to be the authentic history. One of my aims writing this play is that I want this history to be explored more,” Bal said.
Sonam Gyalmo features actors Shanti Waiba, Nikita Waiba, Nisha Pakhrin, Matrika Ghimire, Manoj Tamang, Santosh Tamang and Sanjeeb Rai, among others.
The play will be onstage at Shilpee until July 9.