Sep 17, 2010 (Calcuttatube): Rural Bengal in its elements was felt right here in Kolkata with Chetana‘s endeavour of ‘Putul Nacher Itikatha‘, inspired from the novel of the same name by Manik Bandyopadhyay. Highlighting the complex social issues of the countryside in the wake of the socio-economic crisis of the early twentieth century, Arun Mukherjee‘s lyrical direction gave the narrative an entirely new dimension. Performed by a spirited ensemble consisting of the likes of Manisha Adak, Biplab Banerjee, Turna Das, Anindya Banerjee, Arun Mukherjee himself and the rest, the drama transpired a delightful vibrancy that reached out to the audience with its coarse yet fresh aroma – so characteristic of the pastoral life.
The zest was not limited to the performers as the off stage crew with well orchestrated light and sound projections supported the entire composition with the correct balance. In this context, mention must be made of the simple but thoughtful stage designs that fitted the backdrops all too well as each episode unfurled the varied human emotions in the unique perspective of the rustic conditions. Paying a well deserved tribute to the author, the entire show excelled with professional brilliance in almost each and every aspect of stage acting – surely a privilege to those who will watch it.
Viewed from the perspective of Shashi – the doctor and the revered Chotobabu to the villagers – the story follows him to the doors of every class of people that comprises the countryside – unaffected by the artificiality and the sophistication of the city. Exploring the dark and complex alleyways of the human psychology, the most fascinating part of each act was is its unmistakable vigor with which illiteracy, ignorance, scandals, jealousy, hypocrisy and some occasional naivety was touched upon in the most refreshing way imaginable.
The story glides through difference facets of village life starting with the silent but ardent yearnings of Kusum, the village belle that though crosses the boundary of morality but the audience can only sympathize with her deprived soul that longed for the warmth of a compassionate partner. The various shades of the unique social complexity is best portrayed in the episode of the obstinate Jadav Pandit who commits morphine induced suicide just to establish his saintly self once and for all but shields off the question of his ignorance by offering of his entire property for the establishment of the village hospital. As his wife too takes part in this self sacrifice, the audience can only feel pity for them as the custom and tradition of the village prevents the most sane of them to act otherwise. Running parallel to this is the affair of Moti who ties the knot with opera actor Kumud and settles happily in the city, tearing off all ties of affection from the place where she was born. The theme is deeply contrasted with Bindubasini, given off in the second marriage to an affluent family, who is exploited in the conjugal period more as a ‘keep’ than as a bride and though she cherishes a return to her homeland but feels it unbearable and unaccustomed away from her routine city life. As Shashi watches all these in dismay and participates in some of the social evils, he is also in constant conflict with his father Gopal that represents the ever present generation gap when ideals and values are defined in an altered scale. But as the curtains come down with the ghosts of the past haunting the present, there seems a silent promise for keeping the dreams of the future still alive.
Manisha Adak, as always, stood outstanding in her characterization of Kusum and Biplab Bannerjee was exceptional and sincere in his portrayal of the extremely difficult role of Shashi. Pradip Chakraborty harmoniously blended with the character of Gopal and, as always, breathed freshness to his character. Arun Mukherjee carried on the part of Jadav Pandit faultlessly while Sangeeta Pal was just the correct choice for Bindubasini. Relief was provided by Anindya Banerjee (Kumud) whose mild but witty performance contrasted well with the naive but delightfully frolicking Turna Das (Moti). Thus, Arun Mukherjee’s elegant dramatization and able direction provides a unique definition to the saga and is a must watch for the intellectual theatre viewers of the city.
Photos / Videos: Shrabanti Basu