Bravely Fought the Queen, while exposing the hypocrisy of society, dwells upon the subaltern position of women and those men who fall outside the sexual norm. ‘Family’ is the most important theatrical space in Mahesh Dattani’s plays including Bravely Fought the Queen. The dramatist depicts the battles being fought among the members of same family at home.
The play seeks to presents women’s exploitation by the male. Alka is ill treated by her husband and by her own brother, Praful. Once annoyed, Praful dragged her into the kitchen and pushed her face in front of burning stove and burnt her hair. Her husband, Nitin also treated her badly, even driving her out of house once. Baa, now aged and invalid, was brutally beaten up by her husband. Her anger and frustration is mis-directed towards her daughters-in-law. Jiten is like his father, violent and drunkard. He is very violent with his wife Dolly as his father was with his wife, Baa. He hit badly even when Dolly was pregnant, and their daughter Daksha was born invalid due to that. Baa and Dolly are the worst victims of the conventional and cruel attitude of their husbands.
The play also depicts the issue of homosexuality in a very bold manner, as well as suffering of the wife due to her husband turning out to be a gay. Alka’s anguish and agony is aggravated when she comes to know that Nitin, her husband, has homosexual relationship with her brother. She has become the victim of her own brother and husband’s gay relationship. On account of dry marital life, Alka has become a boozer.
Dattani’s also shows that love for the children often comes from the past guilt. It is the pressure of past mistake or crime that leads them to construct more and more love for kids so as to compensate their past loss. ‘Baa’, Praful, and Jiten did injustice to Daksha. Their excessive love for Daksha results from their past guilt.
The play portrays sexual, moral, and financial depreciation in the lives of the Trivedi brothers residing in a posh suburb of Bangalore. The play also shows how addiction of prostitution of the husband empties joy and happiness of marital relationship. Jiten and Shridhar are the pleasure seekers in prostitutions. They bring the outside women even at their office for this filthy purpose. As a result of this, their wives are unhappy and bored in their marital lives. The play presents the shifting Indian values and dramatizes conflict between traditional and contemporary cultures.
The play also highlights other evils like money-lending, prostitution, domestic violence, consumerism etc. Though, the women of the play differ in their mood and musing, they are unhappy and disappointed at their ‘claustrophobic’ spaces. It is because of this depression and disappointment they are drifted towards different things for eliminating dark-shadow of their frustration. Alka is addicted to wine, Dolly develops romantic notion for Kanhaiya, Lalitha’s excessively involved in growing bonsai, which acts as a powerful symbol of the condition of women in the play.
Eventually, all men are unmasked and their real faces are brought before the audience. There is revolutionary change in the character of Dolly. The otherwise quite submissive, meek and shy Dolly emerges as an assertive and potent character and breaks through silence at the end and burst out her anger against the ill-treatment and injustice done to her. Alka also makes shocking and rather disgusting revelation of hidden motives of her brother Praful who got her married with Nitin for continuing his gay relationship.
The play depicts the emotional, financial and sexual complexities of Indian urban family. The women of the play are exploited in a multiple ways. But they are not passive sufferers. When it goes beyond endurance; they fight back. Alka is the fine example of this. She is the queen who bravely fought against the patriarchal system just as Queen Lakshmibai fought valorously against the colonizers of the country i.e. British.