Hailed as a Shakespearean play, written a few centuries before Shakespeare, Sudraka's Mrichchhakatika is one of the most significant Sanskrit dramas for more than a few reasons. Set in the ancient city of Ujjayani, Mrichchhakatika is "rife with romance, comedy, intrigue and a political subplot detailing the overthrow of the city's despotic ruler by a shepherd, [and] is notable among extant Sanskrit drama for its focus on a fictional scenario rather than on a classic tale or legend. Mrichchhakatika also departs from the traditions enumerated in the Natyashastra that specify that dramas should focus on the lives of the nobility and instead incorporates a large number of middle and lower-caste characters who speak a wide range of Prakrit dialects." Much celebrated in the West because of its plot structure, following several successful nineteenth-century translations and stage adaptations, Mrichchhakatika remains the prominent drama in Sanskrit, widely translated, adapted and performed internationally.
This volume includes the text translated by M. R. Kale along with relevant background essays and criticism, to enable students of literature to understand the long tradition of theatre in India on one hand; and on the other, its subsequent negotiations with the West, traversing, accommodating, negotiating and becoming what we call Modern Indian Drama today.