Summary - Lights Out by Manjula Padmanabhan

Summary Lights Out by Manjula Padmanabhan 

Lights Out Manjula Padmanabhan Summary B A  RTMNU University, Shivaji University

RTMNU BA Supplementary students have to study the play Light out by Manjula Padmanabhan. Lights out is a play by Manjula Padmanabhan. It is based on a real life incident which took place in Santacruz Mumbai in 1982.  

Summary -Lights Out Manjula Padmanabhan

Information about the play

Name  of the Play

Light Outs


Manjula Padmanabhan



Characters :

1.Bhaskar and Leela -Husband and Wife
2. Mohan - Bhaskar's friend
3. Naina- Leela's friend and living near by
4. Surinder - Naina's husband

Manjula depicts the realistic mentality of society in which we are living. 

Story of the play:

Scene 1

Bhaskar and Leela a middle class couple stay on sixth floor of a building in Santacruz Mumbai. Leela and Bhaskar had been hearing a crying voice of women from a neighbourhood under constructed building. They are hearing such voice often and hence Leela is very disturbed. Leela is scared and fearful hearing such voices. Leela is worried about the ongoing crime of gang rape going on in a neighborhood build which is under construction. She is scared and when Bhaskar is out of home on tour she feels much more frightened. She closes all the doors, windows,  with all the curtains drawn and with children’s room doors also shut on the other side. She puts cotton in her ears, but she still hears the sound. She wants her husband Bhaskar to call the police and give a complaint. But in spite of her repeated request Bhaskar ignores it and does not want to get involved in this situation.

Bhaskar is passive in this situation and Leela being a woman finds it very difficult to remain passive and observe all the crime and brutality happening to another woman. She is disturbed that she cannot help a woman who is molested in her neighbourhood. Bhaskar is insensitive and advises her to ignore the sound. He informs her about a guest arriving tonight for a dinner at their house.

Scene 2

Begins with arrival of the Mohan, the guest. Mohan is Bhaskar’s friend. In the discussion Mohan  comes to know about the incident and he is more curious to know about the incident rather than helping the victim. Mohan and Bhaskar are interested in discussing the incident and not at all interested in helping the victim. Bhaskar further tells Mohan about the assailants and their nakedness and discuss the shamelessness. Mohan further turns the discussion into a different direction stating that it would be a religious ceremony since no people are interfering in this matter. This way of giving a religious tradition name to a heinous crime is the way of escapism. Both Mohan and Bhaskar are observer of the crime, who are interested to discuss about the incident and ignoring the victims cry for help. This attitude shows the insensitivity of people who are near and around the crime, victim. The society and people are turning deaf and dump since they have lost the feelings of humanity and humanism.  

Scene 3

The bizarre sound of the women ‘ Let me go! Help me’ with a crying and sobbing voice and screaming is heard. Bhaskar and Mohan both are not disturbed with the screaming but Leela is in tension. Just then Naina, leela friend and neighbor comes and joins the discussion. Naina too is tensed and wants to help the victim and do something rather than just observing and neglecting the crime.

Naina’s husband Surinder comes after Naina. He is full of passion and violently wants to kill them. He speaks about wiping out the assailants but is insensitive towards the victim women. All the men just speak about the incident and are not interested to call the police and take action. The women are helpless against their husband and can do nothing in front of them. This signifies the patriarchal power and authority a man has in his family and the helplessness of the women in  the marriage. To save her marriage one woman is not able to help other women. At last no one goes to help the women and the screaming stops as the rapist run away from the place.


The play speaks about the darkness – lights out in the world around us. People around us have darkness in the physical  sense ( assault of a women is ignored by the society) and mental  sense lights out is reflected in the mentality of people who want to discuss the heinous crime and just observe it from a distant and do nothing. Manjula Padmanabhan highlights the urban society and people who are indifferent towards social commitment.

Manjula depicts the realistic mentality of society in which we are living. 
The theme of Lights out are:
1. Realism
2. Societal insensitivity
3. Suppression of woman
4. Exploitation of woman
5. Patriarchal power in family

Learning :

Manjula Padmanabhan shows the  identity crises of woman living in the society. She speaks clearly and helps to make the readers aware about the issues which are neglected in the society.


FAQ's on  RTMNU BA Supplementary English play Lights Out

1. Who is the writer of the play 'Lights Out'?

Manjula Padmanabhan has written this play and published in 1984.

2. What does the title Lights Out mean?

Lights Out mean that there is darkness all around in the society and also darkness/negligence towards woman in the world.

3. Is this play based on real life incident?

Yes this play is based on real life incident happened in Mumbai.

Post a Comment


  1. We admire your work Mam, thanks for making very much easier.

    1. Thank you for taking an effort to approach and appreciate. Students words are always encouraging to a teachers