Mukti Mukti-Bengali Drama Review

Oct 2, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): The theatre lovers of Calcutta had been overwhelmed by series of some classic productions based on Rabindranath Tagore’s works in the wake of the 150th birth annniversary of the Nobel laureate and ‘Mukti! Mukti!’ is the latest of them that was premiered by Sayak on 23rd September at the Madhusudan Mancha. Dramatized by Chandan Sen and directed by Meghnad Bhattacharya, the play improvises on Tagore’s satire that focuses on those who fakes for the eternal quest of Moksha while completely avoiding social calls. That the quest for ultimate liberation lies in accomplishing the social responsibilities and not by shirking them, entirely evades their senses, and thanks to fraud preachers, some are easily misled by false doctrines.

The quest for Moksha had, for ages unknown, driven the purest of souls away from the earthly ties and though their path to salvation had been strewn with sacrifices and in the process they seem to shun social duties, but at the end these enlightened souls were the ones who showed the world the way to eternal truth and made society cleaner than ever.

But parallel to these were men, disillusioned with the belief of salvation, who took the opportunity to escape social responsibilities in the pretext of seeking truth and only caused suffering to the near ones just for their own whims.

Fakirchand and Makhanlal were two such characters who, though opposite in their principle of attaining liberation had one trait in common – both steered clear of domestic responsibilities.

Fakirchand, the pseudo-pundit, always posed as a refined intellectual and was always in conflict with his father, Bhupati, who provided for his family. His wife and the mother of two, Haimabati was just the opposite, a practical lady with a romantic turn of mind who loved her husband from the heart. But thanks to the false puritan in Fakir, frequent discords in family life were only natural. This led him to wander out into the open in the wish of becoming an ascetic, completely abandoning duties to his family.

On the other hand, Makhanlal, husband to two and father to eight, was spiritually just opposite of Fakir and wished for a relaxed life completely devoted to writing bogus verses. As a family, of the size he already possessed, felt like an added burden he escaped to Vrindavan only to marry again and carry on with his ludicrous compositions.

This caused so much grief to his father, Shibnath, that after months following his son’s absence, when he suddenly met the wandering Fakirchand, mistook him for his son, managed to persuade him to come to his home amid violent protests from the latter. The already uncomfortable Fakirchand was distressed by this confusion and was further unnerved as he met Makhan’s pair of wifes – Hiranbala and Kadambari. This was not the end as soon Makhan’s eight playful children leaped about him and tried to prove beyond doubt his paternal relation to them. What happens next is an entertainment to watch and let’s keep this secret for the viewers to enjoy.

Besides appending to the original storyline, the elegance in direction has infused originality to the theme. Subrata Sen’s art and the set design of Pradip Das and Uttam De were intelligent as well as creative that blended perfectly with each new act. This was supported in no less degree by Somnath Chatterjee’s lighting that complimented well to highlight the temper of each episode. The costume was carefully selected by Amar Ghosh that truly reflected the age of the drama and was supplemented well enough by Panchanan Manna’s makeup.

Apart from a classic supervision of the entire crew, Meghnad Bhattacharya himself excelled in the role of Rasik, and curiously enough, this individual, not in the original story of Tagore, proved to provide the much needed mix of humour and modesty that emphasized the satire well enough. Biswanath Roy, playing the character of the monk, another new inclusion to the story, too balanced the presentation correctly while representing the fraud but comical ascetic to perfection. Samiran Bhattacharya, playing the part of Makhanlal, is to be complimented as the character that he played evolved wonderfully well throughout the show though it was a less highlighted role in the actual story. Soumen Mukhopadhyay was the correct choice for Fakirchand and with his vacant looks carried on well with his false sainthood. Susmita Dasgupta (Kadambari) and Indrajita Chakraborty (Hiranbala) contrasted well in their roles and Sujata Gupta (Haimabati) with her witty expressions also carried on faultlessly. Finally mention must be made of the young brigade of Gairika Chakraborty, Sohom Daw, Annesha Mukherjee, Akash Das, Sristi Dutta, Trambak Bhattacharya, Raima Bhowmick and Subham Roy, representing the eight offsprings of Makhan who delightfully teamed up to give a refreshing relief to this excellent piece of stage acting.

Anirban De

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