The Indian play "Ghashiram Kotwal" was considered so controversial when it was written that established Indian theaters refused to stage it, prompting the birth of the Theatre Academy of Pune. More than 13 years later, the Theatre Academy continues to perform "Ghashiram Kotwal," which is now considered a milestone of Indian theater and is currently touring North America as the official theater entry in the Festival of India.

The play is a biting attack on the decadent Brahmans during the Peshwa rule in the late 18th century. But according to playwright Vijay Tendulkar, " 'Ghashiram Kotwal' is not a historical play. It is a story . . . set in a historical era." The Brahmans of that era, he says, were "creations of sociopolitical forces, which know no barriers of time and place."

"Ghashiram Kotwal," which will be presented Thursday at the Performing Arts Center on Montgomery College's Rockville campus, is a blend of folk dance, mime and music rendered by a human wall of actors that groups and regroups throughout the play. "For the last 20 to 25 years India has been projecting its image of ancient India," says Mohan Agashe, who plays the lead. "We thought it was high time to show something contemporary."