By Guru Shovana Narayan (Padmashri and Sangeet Natak Akadwmi awardee)
ĎSanmatií means Ďgoodwillí or more deeply, the word evokes the Ďmentality of truthí, Ďtruth mindednessí, or Ďsense of beingí and the word was no less important a part of Gandhiís vocabulary of truth and non-violence than ĎSvarají or ĎSatyagrahaí. It was at the heart of Gandhiís life and struggle. Svaraj and Satyagraha need the companionship of Sanmati.
Without goodwill towards one another and truth-mindedness, human beings and civilizations cannot coexist in peace and with dignity; and vengefulness and violence may threaten all life on earth.
Gandhiís struggle for Indian independence, and his devotion to the cause of religious and communal amity and unity, which brought him martyrdom, were suffused with the spirit of Sanmati.
In ĎSanmatií, an attempt is made through dance and music and narration to discover the Gandhi of Sanmati.
What might Gandhi have said to his assassin had he some breath left before dying? Is there a similarity between Gandhiís assassin, Nathuram Godse and his eldest son, Harilal, who rebelled against him?
Was Gandhi towards the end of his life a figure like Bahadur Shah Zafar, isolated and defeated, or was he like Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi, a fighter till the end? Why did Gandhi no fast unto death to prevent the partition of India?†
Sanmati is a meditation of these questions. The spirit of Gandhiís martyrdom is sought to be situated historically, and explored fictionally. His attempt at suicide at the age of twelve, and initiation into ‘Ramanamaí by a midwife, both recorded in Gandhiís autobiography, are the anchor of the fiction of the play. The play also focusses on Gandhiís encounter with King George V of Britain in London in 1931, and with Charlie Chaplin and his martyrdom in Delhi on January 30, 1948, following the partition of India.