Raja Ebong Onnanyo–Bengali Play on Nandikar 27th Festival 2nd day

Raja Ebong Onnanya-Bengali PlayDec 20, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): The 27th National Theatre Festival organized by Nandikar started with a mixed feeling for the audience on its 2nd day, the 1st being reserved for curtain raiser which was held on 16th. As the audiences were filling in the auditorium, some were quite startled to find quite a few army personnel moving in and out of the hall. Though sensing a security threat but when the indomitable theatre lovers were ushered in the auditorium the sense of alarm was replaced with a growing sense of surprise as it was becoming obvious that the personnel were actually members of Prachyanat who were creating the ambience for the performance.

Based on Rabindranath Tagore’s “Raja”, Raja…..ebong Onnanyo focuses on a utopian government ruled by a king – the Raja – whose presence is felt but is never seen. The king is resolute yet just, isolated yet benevolent and remaining unseen keeps strict watch on his subjects and the kingdom he rules. So when power is abused and corruption creeps in, Raja comes forward and saves the land with prudent use of his power and intelligence.

Raja ebong Onnanya-Bangla NatokBut this all powerful Raja seems to be detached from his Queen Sudarshana whose vanity and false sense of beauty rings discord among them. The Queen leaves the Raja and takes shelter in her father’s kingdom. The breach in their relation is furthered by the attack of the seven kings who takes her father hostage and demands the hand of the queen in Swamvyar thus humiliating her even more. It remains to be seen how Raja saves Sudarshana from disgrace and how they reunite after the queen’s pride is shattered.

The entire presentation had been metaphorically compared with the contemporary upheaval in the world of modern politics and beginning from 9/11, suggestive video projections of Afganisthan war, Iraq war, etc. were aptly used that once again reflected the visionary in Tagore. Further, the costume, specifically of the seven conspiring kings, represented the various zones of the world as it is now, on whom depends the future of our civilization.

The entire show was compact with an effusive cast that not only presented a delightful drama but the choreography was also equally lively. Azad Abul Kalam’s able direction was complimented well enough by the set design and the light arrangement of Md. Saiful Islam. The orchestra conducted by Kartik that performed live in the background did an equally good job but the only complain seems to come from the actual musicals that used various Rabindrasangeets whose rhythm at times seemed a bit too revolting.

The felicitations were mutual starting with Nandikar commemorating the occasion with flower bouquets presented to Prachyanat and the later complimenting by felicitating Rudraprasad and Swatilekha Sengupta. But personally speaking the best part came when Rudraprasad, on behalf of late Shambhu Mitra and Bahurupi who pioneered in staging Tagore’s original version of “Raja” as early as in 1960, honoured Prachayant with a bouquet reflecting Mr. Sengupta’s thoughts of the evening of continuance of stage performance worldwide amidst all the obstacles.

-Anirban De

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