Dhananta (2011)-Bengali Play Review

Dhananta-Bengali PlayNov 2, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Dhananta is a Bengali play presented by Shudrak under the direction of Debashish Majumder with Debshankar Halder, Indrani Maitra and others in the cast. Read the Bengali play review by ace critic Pachu Ray at Calcutta Tube.

DHANANTA -an excellent theatrical debate on political and state violence
‘Amitakhhar’ to ‘Dahananta’- Shudrak`s 31years` (1978- 2011) protracted journey under the leadership of accomplished theatre personality Debashish Majumder who came in the lime light as a dramatist in Theatre Commune`s wonderful production ‘Dansagar` in the mid seventies of the last century. This journey of Shudrak started with its first production Amitakhhar, opposing state terrorism and simultaneously supporting arms struggle of the Indian Freedom Movement. And its very recent production Dahananta is an enriched open debate between the embroiling state terrorism and maoist`s armed struggle. This type of debate, concentrating on violance, virtually was absent in Bengali Theatre. The only exception was ‘VirusM` written and directed by Bratyo Basu where debate was opened not mentioning name of any political party. In Dahananta names of all embroiling parties are being mentioned directly without any hanky panky. But it does not mean that the topic was abstaining from the arena. No, not at all. Time and again the issue has appeared in Bengali Theatre, but with biased illiberality which made us turbulent, but opened no discourse- no debate.
Dhananta-Bengali Play by ShudrakThe central characters of Dahananta are an old aged couple (Akinchan/Sabarni enacted by Debshankar Halder /Indrani Maitra).They have two sons and one daughter. The elder son is an American immigrant living in Oklahama. The younger one a Maoist living away from his parent and home as well. The married daughter is settled in Delhi. The couple therefore is alone. Their loneliness sometimes is jolted by their maid Bakul(Somdyuti Chaterjii) who have had regular connection with that Maoist son. In an auspicious day while the couple was eagerly waiting for a phone call from USA and for the presence their younger son as well, Bakul along with her husband Satinath(Tapan Chaterjii) came with the disastrous news of his killing by opponents. This news reached Oklahama through their daughter and then came a phone call not from their son but from their granddaughter asking them hence forth not to phone any more.

The performance starts with their son in law Romit (Chandan Chaterjii) repeatedly knocking at the door of the dilapidated house of Akinchan/ Sabarni and getting no response at all. Akinchan and Sabarni attempted to suicide- Sabarni is dead and Akinchan is dying. After the cremation Romit the heartless pragmatic goes back to his corporate assignment. But when everyone was anxiously waiting for Akinchan there comes young Alokesh(Premangshu Ray) declaring himself a niece of the deceased whom we see in the flash back debating with Akinchan on state terrorism versus armed struggle, the debate about which we were talking earlier. Maoist Alokesh said that they would eventually take revenge of the murder of their comrade, the younger son of Akinchan-Saborni. But on the other hand the father of the murdered urged with folded hands not to take any revenge, not to continue the vicious cycle of bloodshed. This debate is a memorable episode not only of Dahananta but also of Bengali theatre as well.
Debshankar Halder is now an icon. This production was enacted in 3days` Shudrak-festival where performers came from different states. All the performances experienced frustrating number of audience. The only exception was that of the premier show of Shudrak`s Dahananta. And it happened only because Debshankar`s name was advertised earlier. The show was almost houseful. And Shudrak never experienced this in any of their previous premier shows. Here in Kolkata Debshankar is gradually etting to be the last word in stage acting. Cold behavior of the immigrant son in one hand, disturbed by the entanglement of the younger in political violence on the other and at the same time supporting social theories of the later make Akinchan turbulent all the time . This turbulence, this anxiety, this conflict and helpless situation have been depicted by Debshankar in extreme excellence. To talk about his co-factors Premangshu Ray has done his job efficiently. Actually Debshankar- Premangshu`s excellent combination has made this debate memorable. Somdyuti Chaterjii has also shown her power along with Tapan Chaterjii. Since Dansagar we are accustomed with Indrani Maitra. Her first partnership with Dwijen Banerjii in Amitakhhar is still enshrining our memory. In Dahananta also she has done wonderful job keeping pace with the icon all along. On the contrary it may be opined that Debshankar himself has overacted in some patches. Among others Arindam Basu as Trinamul leader Mahendra is notable. Chandan Chaterjii, Indrani Ghosh (nurse etc), Basudeb Majumder are among others to be mentioned.
Gautam Ghosh (music), Badal Das (light) and Panchanan Dey(make up) have done their job as per Director`s demand. Saumik Piyali`s excellent stage craft has been nicely realized by Madan-Tinku. Debashish Majumder again has directed a powerful script of his own. But the proposition of immigrants being mechanical and heartless towards their old parents is again much used and dilapidated chapter. And it is seriously to be noted that the parents are in most cases responsible of making their progeny immigrant. But besides everything, Dahananta is a play enriched with burning contemporaries.
– Pachu Ray

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