Bhopal – by Rahul Varma

Synopsis: Based on the world’s worst industrial disaster that happened at the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, this play is a fictional account drawing attention to human attitudes that result 20,000 dead and counting.

Mr. Devraj Sarthi, an Indian businessman trained in America, returns home to introduce India to Karbide Thunder, the multinational company’s latest arsenal against pests. Mr. Jaganlal Bhandari, the chief minister grants Sarthi the license to manufacture mega-quantities of Karbide Thunder.

Dr. Sonya Labonte, a Canadian NGO researching in Bhopal observes horrible effects on mothers and deformities among babies near the plant. Example: A slum woman called Izzat and her infant daughter Zarina. Labonte pays Izzat, and secretly arranges to bring Zarina to Montreal to show her to a conference as a proof of poisoning caused by Karbide Thunder.

Jaganlal and Sarthi come to learn about it. Labonte is charged of attempted kidnapping of Zarina and is put in jail. Pascal Sauve, a Canadian diplomat negotiates a deal with Minister Jaganlal, which will free Labonte from the jail but she will have to hand over all her research and return back to Canada never to come back.

But before returning back, Labonte storms into Sarthi’s office and charges that by expelling her out of the country, he is of covering-up his crime. Madiha, Sarthi’s secretary and lover, who has not broken the news that she is pregnant with his child, shots back, “if Karbide Thunder is causing deformity, her own baby would be 10 times more deformed than Izzat’s”  because she inhaled 10 times more poison than did Izzat. Labonte agrees. In a fit of emotion Madiha makes a bet — if her child is born healthy, Labonte will shut up for ever. Labonte turns to Sarthi, “I’m not going to be around to see this but how are you going to live with it?  It’s your own baby.”   What will Devraj do now?

This play – a pitiless analysis of the stakes of globalization – explores how this happens.

Bhopal has been translated into French and has been extensively produced in Canada, US and India.

Setting: India and the US
Time Period: Anytime

Cast Size: 7+
Dr. Sonya Labont: A Canadian doctor and an activist.
Izzat Bai: A young mother in a Bhopal slum.
Mr. Devraj Sarthi: Indian national who is head of the pesticide plant in India.
Jaganlal Bhandari: Chief Minister of the state in which city of Bhopal exists.
Madiha Akram :P ersonal assistant and lover of Mr. Sarthi.
Pascale Sauv: Canadian Deputy Minister on a special assignment in India.
Mr. Warren Anderson: President and the supreme head of the parent Karbide International.
Chorus: Consisting of men, women, and children.

Design Needs: Impressionist set depicting slum, factory, political office, etc.
This Play Is: published

Production History: Bhopal was developed under guidance of Habib Tanvir. It was also workshopped at the Banff Center for the Arts in Canada and Naya Theatre in India. The play premiered in 2001 and has been produced English, French and in Hindi, in Canada, India, and the US.  Indian production was directed by Indiaā s legendary director Late Habib Tanvir.

Awards Review Quotes:

“Thought- provoking and stimulating; it comes like a breath of fresh air!”
Sujata B. Shakeel, Hindustan Time

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