The story in Sagina Mahato, bears a unique blend of vigor, innocence and impulse. Sagina Mahato, merely seems to be a common man, but his presence before all others in his surroundings seems to be an exceptional person whose, eagerness to know people and whose lending hand towards distressed people without knowing ultimate result, whose honest attempt for wiping out all sorts of worries and anxiety for peaceful living makes him different from his surroundings. In the society there is no room for an individual, but in many occasions, even for the greater interest of the society, an individual may take a vital role. We must know by rising above all pride and greed and fear, that, worldly losses and physical death can take nothing away from the truth and greatness of our soul.
This is enough to allure a director to carve out bold and spectacular sketches on the stage. The scenes enfolded in such a manner as there is utmost entertainment amidst sufferings, torture and defeat. This down-to-earth flavor is director’s inspiration. The big cast displays youthful power and radiance in a variety of shades. Above all, the director finds that the philosophy of the labor class could not be confined to a particular area. It crosses all bounds and becomes universal. All these gave great impetus to the director Partha Pratim Deb to work on this play. The director says that he will be grateful if this effort gives pleasure and food for thought.
Sagina Mahato, a popular play by Badal Sircar is based on an enterprising story by Gour Kishore Ghosh. Sagina Mahato is a honest dedicated and disciplined worker. Sagina Mahato, a fascinating leader among illiterate, poverty-stricken, rural worker community, uses his unique impulsive mechanism to confront the torment of the employer class. This entices urban political leaders, who send Gouri, their subordinate, in order to set up their rural party union with the help of Sagina’s charisma before the forthcoming election. Gouri, noble and sincere at heart, does her best but unambiguous Sagina falls prey to the complexities of the political world, so much so that his deprived kin become his foe. Sagina innocently convinced, rapidly undergoes metamorphosis through the ‘grace’ of dishonest and self-interested politician. Sagina turned himself as the key tools of self-interested politician. Courageous Sagina ultimately rejects all temptation of National Labor leadership and returns to his people, who once again cheer him up as their pathfinder. The story depicts that a true man fighting honestly for truth shall be a triumphant man any time any moment and at the cost of sacrifice of his life may establish himself a man of warrior for truth. A man of principal, a man having commitment to society cannot shrug his shoulders. Almost in this manner the producer says all about their production- Sagina Mahato.
But in reality there was one Sagina Mahato himself in the working class movement at tea gardens near Siliguri at Darjeeling district during pre independence period of 1942-43. And there is ample scope of thinking that Gour Kishore Ghosh at the same time was inspired by Jean Paul Sartre’s ‘In The Mesh’ written in 1948 where the protagonist is also some Jean about whom Jean Paul Sartre wrote - In a country that is dominated by foreign powers, power is corrupt. Those people who hold power would be villain despite themselves, as Jean.
Truly Sagina Mahato is a story against Indian Communist Party`s hegemony and their practice of culminating all types of movements into ballot paper. “Sagina Mahato” also supports the power corrupts theory. In the seventies Tapan Sinha directed Sagina Mahato where Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu played as Sagina and Lolita respectively. The film got enormous box office support. That was the period of Naxalite upsurge which started from Prasad Jot very near to Siliguri which once upon a time was the battlefield of real Sagina. Tapan Sinha might have discovered some similarity of Sagina with Charu Majumder, the protagonist of that movement and who exposed CPM’s hunger for power and as a consequence their engulfing rampant corruption. Sagina thus in Tapan Sinha’s film in the ‘Period Of Liberation’ might be a metaphor of Charu Majumder. To talk about the production, Parthapratim’s Sagina Mahato is a gorgeous work with very simple arrangements.
At the actor’s left, almost near apron area and closed to first and second wings there is suggestion of a hut where lives ‘Bhabi’ (sister in law), who seems to be the cradle of the working class community. Here they get little food, some country liquor, here in this courtyard people like Gurung (Shyamal Das), Mhadeb (Prasenjit Bhattacharya), Banshi (Sukanta Sil), Jagu (Pinku Saha), Kishan (Laltu Das), Sukhan (Jay Lahiri), Lolita (Shipra Pal) and others assemble. They cry they quarrel they sob they laugh they dance they sing they enjoy–everything in this courtyard. And amidst them the centre figure is always the unanimous leader Sagina Mahato (Parthapratim Deb) who teaches them not to stand on their knees before the Mill Owner, Factory Owner and other employers, who teaches them to protest and to retaliate. Sagina teaches them the theory and practice of strike. Sagina has changed the then existing order of labor-owner relationship.
In this poverty ridden cross section devoid of education, devoid of minimum comfort for livelihood Sagina by dint of his character, by dint of his enormous tenacity emancipates as not only the leader but also as a emancipator of the poor worker community. The Communist Party Of India, the self declared and self imposed vanguard of the working class got the news at Calcutta. To downsize Sagina according to their scale they send Gauri (Nandini Bhowmick) from Calcutta itself. In that poverty ridden country, liquor smeared arena Gauri appears with her urban attaché targeting Sagina whom she finds drunk, almost senseless and entangled with Lolita in a manner unlikely in urban and Communist area. Gauri is here in the almost subaltern area to subvert Sagina and thus to throw him in the whirlpool of vote- general election- formation of Govt etc at the cost of the interest of these subalterns. On the contrary Gauri gets involved in the modus operandi of Sagina, and gets gradually involved in Sagina’s activity. Thus instead of making Sagina her follower, she herself becomes follower of Sagina. But ultimately in a conspiracy nurtured by the HQ people of Gauri, Sagina gets caught in the cobweb of power. He is taken away from his soil in the name of making him national figure. Gauri too is also withdrawn from the breeding ground of Sagina the leader. But in the long run Sagina tears apart the mesh of power and Gauri too dissociates herself from her parent party and comes along with those people who after beating Sagina bitterly for his fifth columnist, embraces him with pride and passion.
Aalap’s debut production Sagina Mahato under the debut directorial work of Parthapratim Deb of Nandikar is a complete theatre. And so after the play the auditorium offered a standing ovation to the team Aalap under the leadership of Parthapratim Deb. The play with flamboyant music, dance and tight team work is in a word amazing.
As a singer actress we got an excellent newcomer named Rupa Deb. And Pubali Nath in her first appearance in stage has marveled us. Sipra Pal’s Lolita is another lively creation. And Nandini Bhowmick as Gauri has shown her excellence in depicting different shades of the character she played.
But the gem of gems is Parthapratim as the protagonist Sagina. Partha is simply a magician on the stage as an actor and as a singer too. In his debut he has sparkled as a director too. After a long gap we got the powerful actor writer Shubhashish Khamaru in the performance again. Be in the stage Shubhashish – it’s our humble request. Khamaru along with Kamal Chatterjee played the role of Communist leadership and both the actors efficiently reflected the broken characters of Indian Communists. Rhishabh Basu as manager or management is also competent.
In stage craft Bilu Datta has done his job effectively with minimum arrangement. Manoj Prasad has done the light design nicely and Nilava Chaterjee has drawn the title with his inherent efficiency.
LONG LIVE SAGINA MAHATO!