Sohaila's Theatre Website

Glittering Decades


Celebrating the capital’s and the Delhi Gymkhana Club’s centenary (their histories are intertwined!) Katyayani presents Glittering Decades, a docu- play adapted by Indo-Australian writer Nayantara Pothen, from her own book.

Glittering Decades is the history of Delhi’s middle class and its distinguishing facets, the seeds of which were sown in British India.

 It is a history of New Delhi from 1931 to 1952. Of  the last years of British rule and the rise of the middle class and the Politician.

 On the one hand there was a refugee influx, severe shortages and a thriving black market, while on the other, there was endless socialising with cocktail parties and balls at the Imperial Delhi Gymkhana Club, with its strictly enforced etiquette and Foxtrot diplomacy. Added to that were the social hierarchies and carefully construed politics, which gave the capital the identity we are familiar with today.

Narrated through the stories of Anne, Aubrey, Lekha and Singha, which reflected the shifts  that were taking place in the city at that time.

Starring Sunit Tandon, Alexander James Holmes, Vani Vyas & Anuja Thirani. Adapted by Nayantara Pothen from her book Glittering Decades: New Delhi In Love & War, published by Penguin. Directed by Sohaila Kapur.

September 7 & 8, at the India Habitat Centre, September 12, at the Delhi Gymkhana Club and September 14, at the Epicentre, Gurgaon.

 Here are reviews of the book:

Pothen’s is an exploration of  how social ritual and a hierarchical code of conduct  shaped the behaviour of Delhi’s high society….Pothen  examines the `Indianisation’ of the Indian Civil Services and their giddy social lives which consisted of jazz music, polo, cocktail parties,  and deciding who could and who could not be invited to these parties.

–Time Out, Delhi


The book is studded with gems about the life in the years of transition… there’s not a lighter moment that’s not captured in Pothen’s brilliantly original work. If you wish to understand the new New Delhi, you’ve got to start with the Glittering Decades.

 –Mail Today


 Glittering Decades tells the story of New Delhi and its privileged inhabitants between 1931 and 1952, faithfully recording the changes that preceded Independence…making the book extremely readable and enjoyable for anyone looking to delve a little deeper into the social and political history of Delhi.

 –The Hindu


What Pothen shows us is how little life has changed for the elites from Imperial Delhi, with its obsession with power by association. Free Delhi was in many ways shackled forever in protocol and precedence, its hierarchy accessible only to the establishment…But the city was in transition and Partition was waiting. The bright young things would soon become responsible citizens of a Socialist India.

 –India Today


 The book is set in Imperial Delhi that traces the origins of the city’s high society tidings…a Page 3 of the 1930s.


Pothen’s study delves into the making of the Imperial capital in the 1930s , its cosmopolitanism…charting out a continuity in the transition to post independence India. …The book makes for an engrossing read, more so because of the anecdotes it contains.

-The Telegraph


Pothen’s meticulously researched work is a remarkable piece of social history….and is a useful statement on  Delhi’s perpetual status as a city in transition. …The brief biographies of New Delhi’s privileged citizens mentioned in the book make her narratives come alive…and whets the readers’ appetite for more.

–Indian Express


“Power, style , frivolity—the story of Delhi’s elite from 1931 to 1952, and how its habits changed or did not change, in the transition from British to Indian governance, which includes how pomp can be undermined to challenge authority”.

–Business Standard


 “The political shifts associated with India’s journey to self government echoed in the social codes of conduct adopted by the Indian elites of New Delhi…Glittering Decades tells the story of how New Delhi became the fading Imperial dream post 1931.

 –The Sentinel

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Image Gallery: photo courtesy to Ankur

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Image Gallery: photo courtesy to Pradeep Kumar

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Click here to view Play at Gymkhana Club

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DECCAN HERALD click here to read

Daily Pioneer click here to read

Club Life (Gymkhana Club Newsletter) click here to read

HT City Click here to read 

The Hindu (Reviews)

The Pioneer

What’s Hot (Times of India)


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