WODEYAR: Part of Mysore’s royal history or not?

Where does the history of the Royal Kingdom of Mysore end?

Does it end with India’s independence? Does it end with the death of the last king, Jayachamrajendra Wodeyar? Or does it include a bit of Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, too?

These are the explosive questions that have been lobbed in the air by the latest controversy surrounding the sound and light show that is to be held in the forecourt of the Mysore Palace. (Latest, because there have been others before this.)

The story so far: the services of the playwright and critic Lingadevaru Halemane were requisitioned by a “company” setting up the son et luminiere to write the script for the show directed by T.S. Nagabharana.

Halemane delivered. But….

But, Srikantadatta Wodeyar is unhappy with the script.

There is no firm word on the cause of Wodeyar’s grouse, but speculation is that he is miffed at being left out completely from the script for the show which is supposed to tell the story of Mysore’s royal past to visitors and tourists.

Wodeyar has expressed his unhappiness to the district in-charge minister D.T. Jayakumar, who says the script shall now be referred to a committee of “experts” for their OK before it is given the go-ahead.

Halamane, meanwhile, is insistent he has done nothing wrong.

He admits Wodeyar is not part of his script but adds it was approved by an eight-member committee. He says he is “not a poet in the royal court” to write what Wodeyar wants. And he says he didn’t need to consult anybody while writing it.

Presuming the exclusion of Wodeyar is the core area of dispute, there are the 11 questions that are crying out for answers:

1) Although his father was the last king and we were a democracy by the time he was born, is Srikantadatta Wodeyar not entitled to any claims to royalty?

2) Can the history of the Mysore Kingdom be told without including the progeny of the last maharaja, who would later be its Member of Parliament?

3) On the other hand, if Srikantadatta Wodeyar is now for all practical purposes a mere commoner, can he command a place in the script as a matter of right?

4) Would the script of the sound and light show, which is history for tourists, have irrevocably suffered had erstwhile prince been included in it?

5) If the script was approved by an eight-member committee, can better equipped “experts” be called in to sit in judgement over them?

6) If so, why weren’t these “experts” part of the committee in the first place and what is the validity of the approval of the screening committee?

7) Even if he wrote the script by devouring history books, could not have Halemane shown Wodeyar the simple courtesy of meeting him and consulting him?

8) If Halemane is right in ending with Jayachamaraja Wodeyar, should he have ended the story of Mysore in 1947, instead of with Wodeyar’s death in 1974?

9) Does leaving out the son of the last maharaja who is the erstwhile scion from the script indicate an ideological attempt at revisionism?

10) Since the show is about us, should the script of the show be put out in the public realm, a bit like Wikipedia, so that we can all join in the debate?

11) If Srikantadatta Wodeyar is included in the script after all this hoo-ha, will the show lose its credibility and gravitas?

Join the debate. Leave a comment. Be heard.