Ashadh ka Ek Din is a unique play from the point of view of characterization. Each character in the play is dynamic and self assertive and different from the other as far as human traits and approach to life is concerned. Thus the characters are complementary to each other and provide mobility, beauty and strength to the plot. The female characters in the play are rendered perfect, determined and stable; on the other hand, male characters are unstable, indecisive, and shaky in carrying out their assigned roles. Even the male protagonist of the play does not have capacity to take right decision and is compolled to role on female protagonist to directe his future action in life. The major characters are being presented below to facilitate the understanding of students so that students by themselves can go ahead with their own explanation and evaluation while analyzing the characters of the play. The major characters in the play are Kalidas, Mallika, Ambika, Priyangu Manjari ,and the minor characters are Vilom, Nikshep, Matul, Dantul, Rangini, Tarangini, Anuswar and Anunashik
Kalidas in the play is a replica of historical and cultured Kalidas, but unique treatment of his character in the context of modern age makes him altogether different from historical Kalidas who is known as the greatest poet of Sanskrit. If one reads the works of Kalidas of the past, one fins him a great scholar, poet and genius who is well oriented in spirituality even in the worldly pleasures. But the character of Kalidas rendered by Mohan Rakesh is quite controversial. Mohan Rakesh regards the classical traits essential for an ideal hero and presents him having human sensibilities of modern age. This rendering offers the readers a new Kalidas, who is not accepted to be hero of the play. Even readers have no sympathy for such Kalidas who is deprived of even basic human traits.
Mohan Rakesh‘s Kalidas is portrayed as a young man who is a lover of nature and appreciates its immaculate beauty and grandeur and composes poems on nature. Besides, he is very kind towards the animals and takes care of them. This is the reason that he picks up a wounded fawn and treats it with all care and affection. He is very fearless and does not yield to Dantul, a royal official, who claims for the fawn. He wishes to have it from Kalidas even at the point of sword and he chases him but Mallika stops him from using sword, as Kalidas does bother muscle power: “Stop, royal officer! Don‟t insist for the fawn, for you, it is question of right, for him emotional feeling. Kalidas, without being equipped with weapon, will never bother weapon”.
The royal person feels apologetic to hear the name of Kalidas, as he is known to everyone being the author of Ritu Sanghar and tells Mallika:
“The king himself read Ritu – Sanghar and appreciated it. Therefore, the kingdom of Ujjayani wishes to felicitate him and give him the designation of the national poet. Acharya Varruchi has come from Ujjayani for this purpose”.
Suddenly Kalidas is invited to have the honour of national poet of Ujjayani. He is unwilling to accept the royal invitation because it is not possible for him to either leave the pristine glory of nature or to disassociate himself from Mallika. However, he finally gets ready to go to Ujjayani against his wish. There he is married to Princess Priyangu Manjari and is lost in the dazzling splendor of capital and becomes the king of Kashmir. There he misuses his kingly power and has illegitimate relations with a number of women. But despite all the luxury and affairs, he cannot remove the impression of Mallika from his heart and sometimes he craves to enjoy her company. He gracefully narrates her that how he was inspired by her for composing his work :
“Whatever I have written has been gathered from this life. The landscape of Kumarasambhav is this Himalaya, and you are the ascetic Uma. The Yaksha’s torment in Meghaduta is my own torment and you are the Yakshini crushed by longing. In Abhijnanashakumtalam, it was you whom I saw in the form of Shakuntala. Whenever I tried to write, I reiterated the history of your and my life”.
While going to Kashmir, Kalidas does meet Mallika Priyangu Manjari goes to have dialogue with Mallika and her mother Ambika and discusses a number of issues regarding Kalidas‘s life and his art. In Act III, he justifies the reason of his not visiting to Mallika, while going to Kashmir: “I did not come to meet you because I had a fear that your eyes will make me more unstable. I wanted have myself from this”.
Kalidas‘s talent does not suit to political affairs for which he is being constantly persuaded by his wife. Ultimately, he fails drastically quashing the rebellion in Kashmir and leaves the place to seek permanent respite in the company of Mallika. But to his surprise Mallika is already wedded to Vilom.
Thus, Kalidas of Mohan Rakesh is not the one who conforms to the merits and features of an ideal protagonist. He is modern and teemed with contemporary weaknesses like an ordinary man. Despite contributing to literary domain, he unnecessary gets entangled in the regal affairs and wishes to earn wealth to compensate his childhood deficiency and to revenge on those who humiliated and disgraced him for his poverty. He admits: ―It was a natural reaction of a poverty-stricken life. Possibly it was the mood to take revenge on those who had humiliated and made fun of me some times”.
Mallika, though an imaginary character, is central to other characters – male or female. She emerges as a protagonist from beginning till the end of the play, and spectators appreciate her endurance and balanced thinking even in adverse situations. In the words of Matul, She is most cultured, modest and innocent girl in entire village. She is a round character who tells her mother about Kalidas‘s talents openly, despite her mother being a traditional woman. Her mother does not like her moving along with Kalidas, as he is not considered a competent man materialistically in modern context. But she is blessed with tremendous power of judging the character and recognizes the poetic creativity of Kalidas and enjoys his company, despite people‘s disgrace and humiliation. She is not only the beloved of Kalidas but also the promoter of his literary creativity. Kalidas‘s emergence as a unique poet is consequent upon Mallika ̳s devotion and dedication towards her sensual pleasure and worldly happiness. Therefore, least bothering about her emotions, she persuades Kalidas to accept the invitation of Ujjayani to be a national poet. She fears that his romantic love for her may blunt his poetic sharpness and hence advises him to proceed to Ujjayani immediately:
“Do you feel that I will be happy if you reject this royal invitation and remain here? I know that your departure will create blankness in me. Possibly external world might appear barrenness. Nevertheless I cannot betray you”.
But Kalidas after going to Ujjayani forgets the role of Mallika in his life and marries Priyangu Manjari and becomes King of Kashmir. Though his poetic work continues, he never bothers to send the copies of his works to Mallika. Mallika is so concerned about his works that she manages to get their copies from the traders coming from Ujjayani. Kalidas, while going to Kashmir, does not meet Mallika, which hurts her emotionally. She does not express her displeasure to anyone. But she feels disappointed when she comes to know that Kalidas has renounced the world having failed to suppress the rebellion of Kashmir and has gone to Kashi. Finally, having left no hopes from Kalidas, she is compelled to accept Vilom as her lifelong companion and has a daughter.
Mallika is very self reliant and self respected character who does not expect any assistance from anyone. This is the reason that she feels hurt when Priyangu Manjari takes pity on her and offers helps for rehabilitating her old house. She quite gracefully turns down the offer and tells: ―You are very kind-hearted. But we are used to live in this house, so there is no inconvenience here”. Priyangu Manjari even hurts her by offering marriage proposals and also accompanying her to Ujjayani along with her mother Ambika. But her crafty devices do not work on Mallika and these offers are also declined jointly by Mallika and her mother, Ambalika.
She is not tied down to old tradition but is progressive character who exercises her right to select life partnership for her, despite the opposition and humiliation of the people. But nowhere is she found to be rude with people and even with her mother. She always convinces her mother that Kalidas is a talented poet, has who received invitation from Ujjayani. She discusses about his extraordinary talent to her mother.
Thus, it can be concluded that Mallika is the protagonist who lives on the portal of emotions and keeps herself away from the worldly requirements of life and sharpens the poetic sensibility of Kalidas to be a great creative writer of Sanskrit literature.
Ambika, the mother of Mallika, is an old woman who lives on realistic situations of life. Her bitter and factual experiences of life make her critical of Mallika who loves Kalidas emotionally. Thus, it is found that whereas Ambalika lives on the facts of life, Mallika live on the planes of emotion. Ambika, thus, does not approve Mallika‘s association with Kalidas as he is not worldly-wise and can do no good for Mallika if both get married. Here, for Ambika, materialistic pursuits are essential for a married life. Since Kalidas appreciates pristine glory of nature and writes something which does not fetch him wealth, she does not consider him suitable for Mallika. When Mallika explains her mother that she loves her own emotions, her mother gives her own experience of life: ―What you say emotion is betrayal and self – deception”.
Ambika understands that Kalidas‘s refusal to go to Ujjayani is just a pretension because he wants to promote his honor. Though she unwillingly asks Mallika to propose Kalidas, she finds Vilom more suitable for her. She is a proud woman who does not accept the help offered to her by Priyangu Manjari for rehabilitation of her old house. After Priyangu Manjari goes away, she comments on the integrity of Kalidas:
“But who is responsible for princess to come here? Undoubtedly, she has come not here without insistence of anyone. The royal artisans will repair the walls of the house. Today he is a ruler; he has resources what better ways could have been other than this to show his power and wealth”.
Thus, Ambika is like a worldly mother, very simple and innocent, who is always worried about Mallika‘s marriage with some suitable man so that she may have quite good, peaceful and happy future. However, her presence in the play as a traditional woman, hones the sharpness of Mallika as a protagonist who asserts her right in modern context.
She is the princess who gets married to Kalidas and asserts her complete right on him. She is possessive in her love, which is in compliance with the kingly stature. Whereas Mallika‘s love is based on emotional and liberal background, Priyangu Manjari‘s love is born of authoritative and tough reality of life. She, unlike Mallika, writhes in jealousy. She compliments Mallika for her beauty and delicate modesty: “Really, you are very beautiful. You know, being stranger to me you do not appear to be unknown to me”. In spite of her knowledge that Mallika has been Kalidas childhood beloved, she hurts her by offering help to mend her house: “I see that your house is in bad condition, its repairing is required. If you wish I can order for this work”.
Besides, she offers her marriage proposals in Ujjayani, though she knows that Mallika has emotionally given herself to Kalidas : “Perhaps, you consider none of them to be suitable for you. But in the state besides them a number of other officers are available. You accompany me. With whomsoever you wish…..”
But Mallika without hurting her requests her to keep away from such discussions.
A comparative analysis between them will give clear picture of their personality traits. As a matter of fact, there are two forces- Mallika and Priyangu Manjari in Kalidas‘s life. Mallika, though away from Kalidas helps in shaping him as writer and sacrifices her personal happiness to build up his talent. Priyangu Manjari, on the other hand, being close to him, fails to recognize his genuine talent and deviates him from literature to politics. She feels that politics will lead him to glorious path in life. Here she drastically fails in her estimation about Kalidas. Thus, in contrast, Priyangu Manjari stands minuscule as compared to outstanding character attributes of Mallika.
Vilom is a male character who is temperamentally opposed to Kalidas. Though he is not a villain, he is always set to confront him with all possible means to compensate his weakness and incompetence. He never tries to harm Kalidas physically, but does everything to hurt him mentally. This is why, he is always considered as opponent of Kalidas. He always comments on the romantic relationship of Kalidas and Mallika. Ambika, Mallika‘s mother also finds him more suitable than Kalidas. It is a meaningful statement of Kalidas about Vilom: “Nothing is unexpected from Vilom. Yes, not doing anything can be unexpected”. But ultimately Vilom happens to wed Mallika and becomes the father of a female child.
He is one of the minor characters who always questions on the intimate relationship of Kalidas and Mallika, and is willing that Kalidas should go to Ujjayani to accept the royal treatment as a national Poet. However, he is sympathetic to Kalidas and acknowledges his poetic talent. He knows about the self repected nature of Kalidas and tells Ambika: ―Kalidas is not pretending, Ambika! I am sure that he has no passion for the royal felicitation. He really does not want to leave this mountainous region”. He also knows that if anybody who can persuade him to attend to royal invitation, it is only Mallika.
Matul is a minor character who is selfish and narrominded person in entire village. He claims to be the custodian of Kalidas being his relative. He is quite unhappy as he does nothing which can improve his financial condition. He is displeased with him and immediately announces that he is no more related with Kalidas. But when Kalidas is invited in Ujjayani as writer of Ritu Sanghar, it is he who forces him to go there and accept the offer. He enjoys all kinds of regal benefits and finally gets his house reconstructed by Priyangu Manjari.
Dantul is a statesman and imbibed all qualities warranted for a statesman. The fawn wounded by him is taken away by Kalidas to nurse it. Dantul demands that he should be given back the fawn. But Kalidas makes him speechless by telling that hunting is prohibited in that vicinity. He wants to use power to snatch the wounded fawn, but when he knows that it is Kalidas, he feels apologetic for his uncalled for behavior. He says to Mallika, “I am sorry that I misbehaved with him. I must go to apologize him”.
Anuswar and Anunasik
They are two officers of the king who come to make arrangement for Priyangu Manjari‘s visit to the vicinity of the mountain.
Rangini and Tarangini
They are the research scholars who are set to learn the tenets which shaped and sharpened the creative talent of Kalidas.