Sept 5, 2010 (Kolkata): CalcuttaTube reviews the opening night of the Bengali play “Bisarjan” directed by Suman Mukhopadhyay with Gautam Halder, Kaushik Sen, Biplab Banerjee, Turna Das and others in the cast.
The opening night of Tritiyo Sutra’s presentation of Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Bisarjan’ saw a full house at Madhusudan Mancha during Purba Paschim’s weeklong celebration of Rabindranath’s 150th birth centenary. Surely one of the greatest creations of Rabindranath, ‘Bisarjan’ once again proved that it stood the test of time when the crowded gallery representing no less than three generations broke in loud applause as the final curtains came down after the two hour show.
Gobindamanikya, Tripura’s monarch, on realizing the futility of blood sacrifices, issued a ban on these unnecessary slaughters at the altar of the Goddess. Undoubtedly, this caused a general discontent in the state that was encouraged by high priest Raghupati, who held himself supreme in the matter of religion. Driven by a false sense of ego, he felt that by prohibiting the ritual, the king had definitely committed a grave crime and to punish and humiliate him, he tried various means to drive everyone against Gobindamanikya. He started by playing on the emotions of the childless queen Gunabati and convinced her of the king’s sin and tried to carry on the periodic sacrifices but was soon foiled in his attempt by the royal guards. Then he tried to take advantage of general Nayanray’s devotion to the Goddess and incited him to assassinate the king but the fearless general, though disconcerted at the king’s decree, found it better to surrender his post rather than his honour thus preventing Raghupati to achieve his revenge. When this ploy failed, Raghupati tried to conspire with the crown prince and king’s brother Nakshatraray. For this he wove up a fantastic story of his dream where Nakshatra was promised the throne if he was would sacrifice Gobindamanikya in the blood ritual. But the cowardly Nakshatra, fearing the king’s wrath, refused to co-operate and once again Raghupati stood discouraged.
But then he seemed to have found the right person in the form of Jayasingha, a Rajput by birth, who was parented from a very early age by Raghupati himself. Though royal blood flowed in his veins, but Jayasingha, tutored by Raghupati, served the Goddess and had unquestionable faith on the deity and his mentor. But his beliefs were also shaken in the recent turn of events and he stood confused as he witnessed the clash between Raghupati and Gobindamanikya. Aparna, a young girl, whose pet goat was slaughtered just before the royal law was passed, also urged Jayasingha to come out of Raghupati’s shackles to start life away not only from the periodical bloodbath but also away from the clash of egos. But Jayasingha, bound by the invisible ties of affection and reverence to Raghupati, was adamant to leave him. Raghupati, on the contrary, exploited Jayasingha’s loyalty by asking him to vow before the Goddess to bring royal blood as Her offerings. Caught between blind faith and a mixed sense of morality as Jayasingha stood confused searching for the path of righteousness, it seemed that the only way to break the stalemate lies in his own sacrifice that will bring the offering so cherished by Raghupati and will save the noble king as well.
This intense presentation directed by Suman Mukhpoadhyay was given the right ambience by a spectacular stage design and architecture by Sanchayan Ghosh, Palash Ghoshal, Madan Halder and Tinku Ghosh. This was complimented with one of the most impressive lighting arrangements by Dipak Mukhopadhyay which with its selective highlighting significantly enhanced the characters and the backdrops. Debojyoti Mishra’s music would have added a whole new dimension to the entire spectra, especially in the acts with the royal guards, but for a slight glitch, that seemed either to originate in the acoustics of the hall or the mixing. As to the costume and make-up a slight complain remains as to the appearance of members of the royalty whose attires could have been more regal.
As to the casting Kaushik Sen not only seemed the most appropriate choice for Jayasingha but he put up one of his most magnificent performances closely followed by Turna Das and Biplab Banerjee as Aparna and Gobindamanikya respectively. Shoven Gangopadhyay as the honourable Nayanray, Mishka Halim as the disturbed Gunabati and Jayaraj Bhattacharya as the weak Nakshatraray expressed their characters beautifully and were well chosen for their roles. Gautam Halder’s portraiture of Raghupati seemed over dramatic and though it marred part of the intensity but the energy that he infused into the character deserves acknowledgment.