Eka Tughlak-Bengali Drama Review

Benagali Play Eka TughlaqNov 20, 12 (Calcutta Tube): Eka Tughlak is a Bengali play produced by theatre group Natadha under the direction of Arna Mukhopadhyay. Read the Bengali drama review by ace critic Pachu Ray at Calcutta Tube.

Rise And Fall Of Muhammad-Bin  Tughlaq

“Prohibition, bloodshed and opposition grow strong at those arenas where a man leaves apart his personal amenities and utilities for the betterment of the masses. He can get some in favor of him but the opposition is always more in number. Day by day faction of the against party increases.

The history gives evidence such people. So is for Muhammad – Bin   Tughlaq, who has been reputed as the mad Muhammad. But the question arises why did the people of those times accept a mad man as the ruler? Not for a short span but for 26 long years! The common ideas can reveal that an inefficient man can never combat to this long period. Then what is the real story?

The things that needs to be unveiled more than the mystery  is where does the truth reside? The newest play of  Natadha is in that search.”

This is the preamble of Natadha`s `Eka Tughlaq`, written by Rudrarup Mukheree. Music has been scored by Arna Mukherjee who has directed the play and enacted brilliantly in the role of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq as well. These two young chaps at the moment are not only involved in group theatre movement, but also exhibiting their talents as theatre workers capable of writing, directing and enacting simultaneously.

Natadha is a Howrah based theatrical group.The modes operandi of Natadha at this time is almost amazing. Amidst  contemporary corporate engulfment they surprisingly are sticking to  Group Theatre mentality. After ‘Nabanna’ by Bijon Bhattacharya and Shambhu Mitra, Bengal has the opportunity to witness the real Group Theatre Movement. Shambhu Mitra, Tripti Mitra, Utpal Dutta, Shova Sen, Ajitesh Banerjee, RudraPrasad Sengupta, Keya Chakrabarty, Bibhash Chakraborty, Manoj Mitra, Mohit Chattopadhay, Selim Aldin, Nasiruddin Iusuf, Arun Mukherjee, Ramendu Majumder, Ali Jaker, Harimadhab Mukherjee, Debashish Mazumder, ShaNoli Mitra, Sohag Sen, Bratya Basu, Suman Mukherjee, Arpita Ghosh etc are the eminent personalities of group theatre movement in both parts of Bengal. In this row of eminence  we can safely include Shib Mukherjee, the founder and the cradle of Natadha and the group theatre movement of Howrah as well. Outside Bengal at the moment Heisnam Kanhailal of Manipur, Baharul Islam of Assam, Subodh Pattanayek of Orissa are strongly holding the torch of Group Theatre movement in these odd days where virtually Theatre itself is becoming a minority culture.

Before dealing with Tughlaq, Natadha ventured with Ceaser adopting Bernard Shaw, and they did Shakuntala Alsol. In all those plays  Arna played the key role most efficiently. But here  it becomes very difficult to keep pace with their explanation  about the 26years’ rule of Tughlaq. But we do understand that in a world where the Honorable Judges sometimes become partisan, then how come the theatre workers remain impartial all along! But partiality and deliberate misinterpretation of history are not the same. I would be happy if it would have been a case of simple misinterpretation without any notion whatsoever.

Among all the Turkey Sultans who had ruled India, Muhammad Bin Tughlaq is most famous and most controversial in one hand and wisest and cruelest on the other. Though the expansion of the kingdom was virtually done by his father Giasuddin  Bin Tughlaq, Muhammad is considered as symbol of Sultan dynasty. This might be as because Muhammad Bin Tughlaq really was cruel, cold blooded and crazy in one hand and brilliant, philanthropic and an endearing person on the other. This dichotomy of an individual  is said to be due to his psychiatric bipolar disorder for which Muhammad has been coined as maniacal genius. Whether Muhammad was  strictly religious or he was a heretic by nature is still obscure. The name of Allaha was inscribed in all the types of coins he introduced. And at the same time he was dead against of Ulemars. This is another signature of dichotomy.

But besides all expected rivalry from Ulemars Muhammad ruled for 26years and died normally. He reigned for such a long period as he was uncontested. After his father’s death (which to some historians was a simple case homicide committed by Muhammad by pushing elephants to crash the tent where his father was at rest at that time) he was the only claimant of the thrown. After the death of Muhammad came Faruq. Faruq was not only a bad ruler but also a terrific anarchic. But he too ruled for  long 37years.

In their smart production Natadha under the able leadership of young Arna has correctly shown profound regard to this maniacal genius.The poetic gesture, philosophical approach, administrative accountability and erudition of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq have been brought in this play with care and caution. If one wants to respect a single act of Tughlaq then he has to honor his effort to introduce coins. This too has been vividly depicted in Natadha’s ‘Eka Tughlaq’. The Oedipus complex  of Tughlaq has also been shown with certain subtle strokes. This complex possibly refrained Tughlaq from polygamous character which was monopolized by the Hindu and Muslim rulers. The moments of Tughlaq  with his mother have been brilliantly enacted by Sadhana Mukherjee and her son in real life, Arna.

Under the heading ‘In search to bridge the past and the present’, in Eka Tughlaq,  Arna has done extremely well in scoring music, playing the role of Tughlaq and directing the play itself. Sudip Sanyal is marvelous in the light. Stage has been planned by Nilkanta and made by Bilu Datta and Milan Kundu. Dress and make up by Bimal Maity, Muhammad Ali, Rabi Ghosh, Nepal Chakraborty and Hafij are very competently done. Anindya Nandi`s sound projection is faultless. But if we do not mention the name of excellent dance composer Debkumar Halder, we will behave nonsense.

Natadha at the moment really has an young brigade under the leadership Arna Mukherjee whose marvel is in his smartness which he has been able to infuse among his all co actors. This smartness is reflected from the youngest Rudrarup to senior Bedanta Banerjee. Arpan Ghosal as Firoj Shah Tughlaq is also excellent. Others are Upabela Pal, Jaydeb Ghosh, Arindam Mukheree, Bimal Maity, Subrata Sandhu Khan, Sushanta Chakrabarty, Jaibatrik Mukherjee, Saumen Banerjee, Sumit Panja, Prashanta Banerjee, Milan Kundu, Swaprabha Mukherjee, Swagata Rit, Dipak Kumar Haldar, Sujata & chorus (Anirban, Saurav 1 &2, Jyoyiamay).

To conclude as per our humble opinion Natadha’s ‘Eka Tughlaq’ is a brilliant piece. We have had the opportunity to watch a couple of Tughlaq in our theatre. That of Natadha is the best.

Pachu Ray

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