Category: Festival of Independence

Lions and Tigers: Audience Reactions

Critics have been calling this production a ‘powerful new play’ (Independent). Here’s what you had to say:

In the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until Saturday 16 September. Book now

Lions and Tigers is now playing in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse…

Lions and Tigers is now playing in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until Saturday 16 September.

Find out more about Dinesh Gupta’s letters.

Book tickets

Lions and Tigers: In PhotosLions and Tigers is now playing in…

Shubham Saraf (Dinesh Gupta)

Tony Jayawardena (Subhash Bose / Jyotish Gupta)

Jonathan Keeble (Tegart / Irwin) and Shubham Saraf (Dinesh Gupta)

Esh Alladi (Mahatma Gandhi)

Jaz Deol Jawaharlal (Nehru / Binoy Bose)

Shalini Peiris (Kamala)

Jaz Deol (Jawaharlal Nehru / Binoy Bose), Shubham Saraf (Dinesh Gupta) and Raj Bajaj (Badal Gupta / Ram)

Lions and Tigers: In Photos

Lions and Tigers is now playing in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until Saturday 16 September.

A world premiere of Tanika Gupta’s play based on the true story of her great-uncle and freedom fighter Dinesh Gupta. Charting the 19 year old’s emotional and political awakening, the play challenges our assumptions about Indian independence and offers new insights into the battles between the British lions and the Bengal tigers.

Watch the trailer.

Find out more about Dinesh Gupta’s letters.

Book tickets

(Image credits: Marc Brenner)

Lions and Tigers: In RehearsalNew play Lions and Tigers opens…

Lions and Tigers: In Rehearsal

New play Lions and Tigers opens tomorrow as part of our Festival of Independence

These photos capture the last few weeks in our rehearsal room, as the cast are gearing up to tell this moving true story of independence live on stage. See the full photo gallery over on Facebook.

Photos: Helena Miscioscia


Find out more about the play >>

10 Quotes on Independence from Lions and TigersNext week a new…

10 Quotes on Independence from Lions and Tigers

Next week a new play by leading playwright Tanika Gupta, Lions and Tigers, opens in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. It tells the tale of India’s fight for independence through the eyes of freedom fighter – and Tanika’s great-uncle – Dinesh Gupta.

Tanika has written over 20 stage plays for major British theatres but this is her most personal play yet. Based on family stories that Tanika heard from early childhood, the play teems with details drawn from her grandfather’s 500 page handwritten journal about his younger brother, and from the 92 letters written by her great-uncle from his prison cell.

Letters by Nehru, Gandhi and Bose are also mentioned throughout the play, taken verbatim from their original correspondence.

These 10 poignant quotes give you a flavour of the play and the broader political context in which it is set.


“Why do I regard the British rule as a curse? It has impoverished the dumb millions by a system of progressive exploitation and by a ruinously expensive military and civil administration which the country can never afford. It has reduced us politically to serfdom. It has degraded us spiritually.”


“If we want to make India really great, we must build up a political democracy on the pedestal of a democratic society. Privileges based on caste or creed should go, and equal opportunities should be thrown open to all. The status of women should also be raised to take a larger and a more intelligent interest in public affairs.”


“Non-co-operation means nothing less than training in self-sacrifice. Why should we co-operate with you when we know that by your administration of this great country we are being daily enslaved in an increasing degree?”


“Generation after generation, and year after year, India as a nation and Indians as individuals have been subjected to insult, humiliation and contemptuous treatment.”



“No real change has ever been achieved by discussions. I am convinced that if we desire freedom we must be prepared to wade through blood.”


“We should have but one desire today – the desire to die so that India may live – the desire to die a martyr’s death, so that the path to freedom may be paved with the martyr’s blood.”



“British rule is immoral. The psychological impulse behind the youth movement is a feeling of restlessness and impatience, of acute discontent with the present order of things, and a profound desire for a radical change.”


“To die for your beliefs is one thing but to kill? No.”


“From this day, you are swearing your allegiance to the Bengal Volunteers. With your help, India will arise from the tyranny of British occupation. We are not meek, or weak or naturally subservient. We are proud and strong and ready to fight for our land.”



“The British government in India has not only deprived the Indian people of their freedom but has based itself on the exploitation of the masses, and has ruined India economically, politically, culturally, and spiritually. We believe, therefore, that India must sever the British connection and attain Purna Swaraj, or complete independence.”

Find out more about the play >>

Photo: B.B.D. (Badal, Binoy, Dinesh) Bagh, a square in Kolkata, by Rangan Datta Commons

Independence Day India CompetitionYesterday (Monday 14 August)…

Independence Day India Competition

Yesterday (Monday 14 August) and today (Tuesday 15 August) mark exactly 70 years since Pakistan and India, respectively, gained independence from Britain. This week, celebrations will take place all over the world to honour those who fought for that independence.

Pictured above: The national flag of India on the Red Fort in Delhi (by Dennis Jarvis, Wikimedia Commons)


This summer, our Festival of Independence aims to mark those 70 years with a programme of theatre, music, poetry, comedy and dance. 

The centrepiece of the festival is a new play by festival curator Tanika Gupta. Lions and Tigers opens next Wednesday (23 August) and documents India’s fight for independence from the perspective of freedom fighter – and Tanika’s great-uncle – Dinesh Gupta.

To join this week’s independence commemorations and celebrations, we’re giving away a limited number of tickets to see Lions and Tigers.


To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets, share our recent Tweet with the hashtag #IndependenceComp and we will select winners at random by Friday 18 August.

We will contact winners directly via Twitter.

Dinish Gupta’s Letters: An ExtractFreedom fighter Dinesh Gupta…

Dinish Gupta’s Letters: An Extract

Freedom fighter Dinesh Gupta is the subject of a new play Lions and Tigers which opens here this month. We’ll be sharing quotes from Dinesh’s letters on Twitter throughout next week.

In the meantime, read an extract from one particularly poignant letter below, and see them all on display here until 29 August.


My dear Chotodata,

Received your sweet note this afternoon, none from Bowdi.
I am not grieved in the least to die.
I do agree that life is sweet but sometimes death is sweeter. Do you not think so?

I want to sleep, deep sleep, sleep that soothes
the heart from the endless miseries and misfortunes
of this world. Death is my friend, my greatest benefactor. Death will release me from this bondage, death will make me free. May liberty is in death, my life-eternal is in death.

When I die, I want no tears. If any one
loves me and is really sorry for me, let him not cry aloud. My soul shall not be satisfied with tears, with salty water of helpless beings.

Perhaps this is my last letter.
My Pranam of best love to you all

Affectionately yours

Pete Le May, the exhibition’s curator, offers an interpretation of the letter…

“This remarkably poetic and philosophical letter shows 19-year-old Dinesh confronting his mortality without fear. He sees his death as a path to freedom. The final line of ‘my soul shall not be satisfied with tears, with salty water of helpless beings’ shows that he wants people to be active and follow his path, rather than be helpless and submissive. He thinks the date of his execution is close. In fact, he was executed two weeks after writing this letter. ‘Pranam’ is a respectful greeting which he uses to sign off to his family.”

Find out more about Dinesh and Lions and Tigers >>

Who Was Dinesh Gupta?Based on the true story of her great uncle…

Who Was Dinesh Gupta?

Based on the true story of her great uncle and freedom fighter Dinesh Gupta, Lions and Tigers is the world premiere of a new play by leading playwright Tanika Gupta. The production plays as part of our Festival of Independence from 23 August.

On 8 December 1930, Dinesh Gupta (aged 19), along with his comrades Badal Gupta (18) and Binoy Bose (21) led an assault on Writer’s Building, the administrative heart of the British Raj in Calcutta. They shot and killed the Inspector General of Prisons, Colonel Simpson, and then took cyanide and shot themselves in the head.


Dinesh spent six-and-a-half months in Alipore Central Jail in the ‘condemned’ cell. He wrote letters, in English to his brothers, and in Bengali to his mother, sisters, sisters-in-law, and some friends. 

Pritish Gupta, medical doctor and playwright Tanika Gupta’s paternal grandfather, collected 92 of Dinesh’s letters which have acted as inspiration for Tanika Gupta’s writing of Lions and Tigers. A small selection of the letters is now on display in our foyer.

Come and see Dinesh’s story come to life through performance. 

Buy tickets >>

Dinesh’s Letters Now On Display“My dear brother,I have received…

Dinesh’s Letters Now On Display

“My dear brother,
I have received your letter yesterday morning. Death may not be an adventure to me but I take it as the blessing of god…”

Based on the true story of her great uncle and freedom fighter Dinesh Gupta, Lions and Tigers is the world premiere of a new play by leading playwright Tanika Gupta.


Tanika used letters from her great uncle to inspire the play and these ten letters are now on display in our foyer until 29 August.

Come and see Dinesh’s writing in the flesh and book tickets to Lions and Tigers and hear this true story come to life through performance.

Emma Rice explains why ‘Take Care of Business’ by…

Emma Rice explains why ‘Take Care of Business’ by Nina Simone resonates with her as part of our ‘Waxing Lyrical’ event . 

She will be joined by David Jubb on Thursday 29 June, while Nicholas Hytner & Ellen McDougall will be speaking on Friday 30 June about their life, their work, their influences and music which resonates with them. Find out more and book tickets: