Lions and Tigers

“Death is my friend, my greatest benefactor. My liberty is in death, my life eternal is in death” – Dinesh Gupta

Based on the true story of her great uncle and freedom fighter Dinesh Gupta, Lions and Tigers premiered in August 2017. This dramatically relevant and authentic story is set against the backdrop of negotiations between the leaders of the Indian National Congress; the future Prime Minister Nehru wavers between his respect for Gandhi’s non-violence and his admiration for the youthful fervour of the militant Bengali nationalist, Subhas Chandra Bose.

Tanika Gupta has written over 25 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.

Lions and Tigers follows Dinesh Gupta’s emotional and political awakening as this extraordinary 19-year-old pits himself against the British Raj. Culminating in actions that shook the foundations of the British Empire, Lions and Tigers challenges our assumptions about Indian independence and offers new insights into the battles between the British lions and the Bengal tigers.

“Tanika’s gripping play manages to join dots that I didn’t even know were on the same page. This is important stuff. Fasten your seatbelts, the world won’t look quite the same when you leave the theatre” – Emma Rice (Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe.)

Lions and Tigers was part of the Festival of Independence, curated by Tanika Gupta at Shakespeare’s Globe. It was performed from the 23rd of August to the 16th of September 2017 in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

As we mark 70 years since Indian independence, this festival of theatre, music, poetry, comedy and dance shines a light on the fight for personal, political and artistic freedom.

An interview Tanika Gupta: ‘My great uncle’s remarkable story made me want to write – WhatsOnStage

A passion from within: Tanika Gupta on her new play about the fight for Indian Independence – Shakespeare’s Globe

Lions and Tigers: First Preview

Letters from Dinesh Gupta

“A beguiling mixture of youthful warmth and timeless defiance” – The Evening Standard ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Gupta’s play is constantly revealing both our capacity for cruelty and humanity” What’s On Stage ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“The personal is political, especially when lions and tigers go to war” – The Times ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Tanika Gupta’s real-life tale of her great-uncle’s political awakening recounts a sprawling history but its more intimate scenes deliver the sharpest commentary” – The Guardian ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“An impressive piece – warm, humorous, stirring, and deeply sad.” – The Independent ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“The way this work disguises potent themes like self-worth, martyrdom, sacrifice and violence isn’t just clever, it is downright genius” – The Upcoming ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Financial Times