Amitakshar (2010)-Bengali Drama Review

Oct 20, 2010: Amitakshar (2010) is a Bengali play presented by ‘Shudrak’ along with ‘Sanstab’ as its associate.The play was staged before on 2nd May, 1978 by ‘Sudrak’. Among the cast from the previous production Dwijen  Banerjee and Indrani Maitra are present. The play is by Debasis Majumdar while Biswajit Chakrabarty, Soumitra Mitra, Premangshu Roy and others in the cast.

Sudrak’s revival of Debashis Majumder’s ‘Amitakshar’, a drama that highlights the various shades of humanity, attracted a full house at the Academy on 10.10.10, even after 32 long years since it was first staged. When the materialistic world exploits the poverty stricken section, the challenge that awaits humanity is whether the victims can overcome the lust for worldly gains and celebrate the true colours of humanity that revives hope for a better future rather than cringing for personal benefits.

At first glance it seemed so simple a choice for Twisampati, representative of the lower middle class, who once fired from his job, tried his living as a make-shift binder for the local library. All he had to do was to pose as an aged freedom fighter, the background being deftly engineered by the local party leader Sushil who systematically forged all the necessary documents. It seemed a gift to the poverty stricken family of four as this meant he was entitled to the government grant of two hundred rupees per month – surely a great relief for Twisampati who depended on his son Basu’s income and his make-shift binding job which were way behind to assure financial security. But was this only benevolence in the part of Sushil, an acquaintance from their village bent on easing out the sufferings of the fellow villagers? It was soon apparent that with a background of corruption, Sushil’s move was diplomatic rather than sympathetic and it was a carefully planned maneuver for which Twisampati was thus faked.

Initially oblivious of the politics, Twisampati enjoyed this sudden luxury of easily earned money and though at first he felt a bit embarrassed but gladly accepted any invitation that came from various clubs that commemorated revered figures from the public. In these, requests for speeches of India’s freedom movement became routine. For this he sought refuge in his daughter’s history books and thus unconsciously educated himself with the glorious chronicles of the freedom struggle. As his researches took him through the hard earned path of freedom and glory, he gradually realized that far from doing honour to the brave sons of the soil, he was an utter disgrace to his nation and humanity at large. The burden of lies seemed too heavy and conscience seemed to hurt a lot and ultimately he chose the path of righteousness by condemning the act though it threatened annihilation of his dear family.

The entire presentation seemed to celebrate those lost values that are fast receding in the materialistic society of greed and desire. Keeping conscience at bay and with opportunities looming at large for easy money, the show illustrates how the common man is subjected to more than his fair share of evil that is required for the struggle for existence. But for those whose souls are pure, they ultimately denounce corruption and face the consequences with a brave heart.

Dwijen Bandyopadhyay and Debashis Majumder’s production design deserves all the credit for this excellent presentation and the former’s portraiture of Twisampati was also one of the greatest treasures of the show. But Biswajit Chakrabarty was undoubtedly the most fascinating in his role of Chandrakanta whose character from the seemingly nonchalant relative to the shrewd diplomat of the society evolved with brilliance, thanks to Mr. Chakrabarty’s brilliant performance.

Indrani Maitra as Niharbala was also a correct choice whose mixed expression of the present misery and the happier past imparted the much needed introduction that was due to the story. Madhuri Majumder as the little Rinku was sweet and Premangshu Roy was most realistic as the desperate yet uncertain Basu.

Though the acoustics seemed not to do justice at certain points, but the lighting arrangement by Badal Das was well modulated that created the right ambience during the entire presentation albeit the stage set up of Twisampati’s living room remained mostly unaltered throughout.

The costume design and Panchanan Dey’s make-up also deserves credit as the contrast in Twisampati and his family’s appearance before and after their receipt of the government grant silently displayed the slight variation in the domestic riches. Thus this inspiring presentation that literally survived the test of time is a must watch for its significant insights to the human character that is mostly overshadowed by the struggle for existence.

– Anirban De

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