Nov 20, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Pandavani by Singer from Chhattisgarh and Folk Drama by Rava Community of Assam Dumukchi’s story is a small part of Dodan’s life-story. The Director Sukracharjya Rabha is one of the most active theatre workers of Assam. Founder-director of Badungduppa, a tribal theatre group of Assam, he has directed several plays , some of them being Rupalim (Rabha), Madaiah The Cobbler (Rabha) , Hati Aru Fandi (Bodo), Labhita (Nepali ), To’ Poidam (Rabha) and Dumukchi (Rabha). So he has handled three regional and marginal languages – Rava, Boro and Nepali. He met H. Kanhailal and was greatly influenced by his theatre. Henceforth their relationship evolved in the ‘guru- shishya’ tradition and he was apprentice under guru Kanhailal at Manipur Kalakshestra, Imphal . He now works independently as a director and tries to promote the cultural heritage of the Rabha community, as well as other ethnic groups of north East India through theatre. He has received ‘ Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar’ in Direction from the Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi for the year 2009 and ‘Aditya Bikram Birla Kala Kiran Puraskar ‘ from Sangit Kala Kendra, Mumbai for his outstanding performance in the field of theatre for the year 2010. Sukracharjya Rabha used to hear the story of Dumukchi in his childhood and was very much attracted to it since it narrates how almost the entire major Rabha leaders of that period were killed as a result of socio-political feud. The purity of Dumukchi ‘s love, which ultimately killed her, was another point of attraction for Sukracharjya . Simple day to day body language of rural Rabha people is used in the play. Through the play the director tried to explore interaction between man and nature , human values and pure love.
Sukracharjya has shown a brilliant team work where everybody has done their job doing physical acting
extremely well. In this team everybody is indispensible. But Radhika Rava`s Dumukchi is unforgetable.
The play is based on a Rabha legend. One day king Dodan went for hunting . On the way he met Dumukchi, the sister of his subordinate king Kasi. Dodan fell in love with Dumukchi. King Kasi being against this relation, kept Dumukchi under house arrest and hatched a conspiracy against king Dodan. When Dumukchi came to know about the conspiracy, she escaped to warn king Dodan . On the other hand when king Dodan came to know about the plight of Dumukchi, he came for her rescue. In the war king Dodan, his commander in chief Marukhetri and king Kasi died. Dumukchi unaware of all these was waiting for Dodan in the forest . When eventually Dodan could not turn up, she started to cry. As per legend her tears started to flow as a spring. And as per legend ultimately she herself turned into a stone.
Dumukchhi was performed in the folk drama festival named ‘Lokaranga 2011′ organized by Kasba Arghya in open arena of Rabindra Sadan premises at Kolkata . The festival was inaugurated by famous theatre personality Rudra Prasad Sengupta. In the first day the host itself performed their old play ‘Bharatkatha` based on Mahabharata and in form very near to Chhattisgarhi Pandavani which grammatically means the words of Pandavas (As per Pandovani exponent Tijon Bai- ‘Pandavani or the vaani (words) of the Pandavas is performed all over India, it’s just that in Chhattisgarh we use our own dialect and style of singing’). ‘Bharatkatha’ is directed by Manish Mitra and is enacted by Sima Bose in a major role as Pandavani Singer.
Tijon Bai performed ‘Karan Badh` (the murder of Lord Karna of Mahabharata) in the last year’s ‘Lokaranga 2010′ organized by Kasba Arghya itself. That year Pandavani guru, Punaram Nishad, stayed at Anya Theatre Bhavan in Salt Lake and conducted a workshop with the members of Kasba Arghya. This year he came again and made his marvelous performance depicting Draupadi`s Swayambhar Sabha. To talk about Punaram Nishad, he received the Padmashri in 2005. Being son of a Bhajan Singer, Punaram started singing at the age 10 and later joined the Vedmati form of andavani. As the later version of the oral tradition, Vedmati doesn’t allow changes in the written texts. The narration has to remain pure, only stotras, dohas, chaupais and alaaps could be added. Unlike the Kapalik Pandavani Singers(to which Ms Tijon Bai belongs), Vedmati Singers never stand up or move around but perform in a kneeling posture. And the whole episode of Draupadi`s marriage ceremony was recited by Punaram in a kneeling posture in this 2011festival.This posture is followed neither by Tijon Bai nor by Shanti Bai Chelak who also practices the Kapalik form of Pandavani and came all through from Chhatissgarh to participate in ‘Lokranga 2011′.
Since this was an open air program and since there was untimely rainfall at Kolkata, the attendance was little bit poor.
– Pachu Ray