From PhalkeFactory

Malavika Agnimitra is a domestic and erotic comedy taking place in the palaces of kings. It was scripted by Kalidas.

Agnimitra is a King of the Shunga dyasty, in possession of a strong kingdom, he had two queens, the wise Dharini and the pert Iravati. There were some wars at the frontiers, but more like irritants. The King is perfectly happy, but a little bored, he finds comic relief in his court jester, Vidushak, who becomes his constant companion.

At the borders is the kingdom of Vidisha, ruled by Yajnasena. When Yajnasena's cousin, Madhavsena, decides to wed his young sister with Agnimitra, Yajnasena sees it as a kind of betrayal, he imprisons Madhavsena, although the young girl escapes. Yajnasena then tries to bargain with Agnimitra for Madhavsena's release, Agnimitra refuses. Yajnasena feels doubly humiliated and decides to attack the borders.

Agnimitra has put his brother in law, Virasena, in charge of the border, he lets him handle things. He goes to visit his wise queen instead. And sees in her palace, a painting of her, with her attendants- there is a girl of unsurpassed beauty painted into that picture, Agnimitra immediately wants to know who she is.

She is Dharini's protegee, a young girl rescued from the border by her brother, who is being trained by the dance master, Ganadasa, to become a fine dancer. The queen sees her husband's eyes wake up from sleep in desire.. she quietly desists from letting him meet Malavika.

But the image is in the king's mind now, he must see her. He confers with his jester. The jester, a wily Brahman, works on the ego of artists- he tells the king to organise a dancing competition between protegee's of the two leading dance teachers- Ganadasa and Haradatta. The king wants to invite his queen, and a woman who is a buddhist monk, to give the occasion legitimacy.. the monk agrees, the wise queen declines.

The dance is a revelation of the young girl's sensuality. The king is engaged in the world again, he wants her, he wants to chase her, he feels restored.

Messages are sent to her, the king plots to meet her in a rich palace garden. Iravati decides that very evening, to stroll those gardens with her husband. A scenario with final comic potential ensues.. the beautiful Malavika is going to perform a ritual on the Ashoka trees- kick the base of it with her delicate feet, so that they might blossom, on her mistress, Dharini's orders. Dharini was to do it herself, but had injured her foot. Her maid is delivering the king's message to her. In the bushes are hiding the Vidushak, watching his plot unfold, and the king, delirious like a bee in spring.. and soon, the petulant Iravati, who comes by, also hides in the bushes and understands what is going on.

The garden is ripe with tongues waiting to tell their secrets and ears, waiting to catch them. Malavika professes love for the king, the king overhears and steps out and reciprocates, Iravati overhears and steps out and confronts them. Malavika runs away, the king lies prostrate at Iravati's feet now, finding no way of explaining his behaviour away to his implacable queen.

Dharini has Malavika imprisoned with orders that she not be released to anyone not bearing the ensignia of the entwined snakes embossed on the queen's ring.

Vidushak carries on his script. He visits Dharini with the king, steps out to pluck flowers for Dharini and runs in in a swoon, and handing over his flower, talks of a poisonous thorn that has pricked him. Dharini is undone by the kindness that is sometimes the one half of wisdom. Vidushak is sent to his preferred Vaidya who immediately recommends something with the image of a snake to be procured- Dharini readily parts with her ring.

Malavika is released and she meets the king in the garden palace, with Vidushak keeping guard. The curious Iravati's equally curious maid comes by and comes upon a sleeping Vidushak muttering goodwill to Malavika and illwill to Iravati. Iravati flings a snake shaped stick on the Vidushak who cries out when he sees it- the king rushes out of the palace, with a worried Malavika following.

Two humiliations before Iravati have made the king look quite cheesy, he retreats to his palace.

A few days later, he is made happy to know that his brother in law has defeated Yajnasena and Madhavsena had been released. In gratitude, two accomplished maidens were being sent along with other precious gifts, to Agnimitra.

Dharini's Ashoka trees have bloomed.. she organises a visit by her husband, where the two maidens are also to be handed over in her presence. The young Malvika goes with her.

The two maidens recognise Malavika- she is the young sister of Madhavsena who had disappeared, who was being sent to marry Agnimitra. The illicit was legitimate all along. Dharini becomes the advocate of the marriage once she realises its suitability. She convinces Iravati. The classical comedy closes with no damage done to anyone and order, mildy shaken, restored. Malavika becomes the third queen.

Agnimitra's days fall back into a more familiar pattern.