Kolkata, July 24, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): Sastha Ritu is a Bengali play directed by actor Biplab Banerjee with Manisha Adak, Atish Chandra, Turna Das, Gautam Dey and others in the cast. Read the Bengali drama review at CalcuttaTube.
The sixth season in the Bengali calendar celebrates the amorous spring and Biplab Banerjee directs the mixed shades of love in “Sastha Ritu”, a play based on novelist Samaresh Basu’s story dramatized by Atish Chanda.
The story starts at Malipara, one of the innumerable dwells of the poor in Bengal where, amidst the deprived, lives Krishna Bhabini, a Vaishnavi and orphan Radha who is more than a daughter to the former. Krishna Bhabini, with her unconditional devotion to Lord Krishna, is a gifted vocalist, mesmerizing audiences around the country, with devotional verses. This has not only brought her fame but also attracted admirers of whom the wealthy Mathur Bhattacharjee is the most prominent. Apparently dedicated to the songs of the Vaishnavi, the lustful Mathur tries to buy off Bhabini’s soul with expensive gifts and seems to succeed in his endeavour more than slightly. The Vaishnavi, with a mixed sense of guilt and an urge to protect the innocent Radha, sometimes would give in to Mathur’s desires and seems to expiate by reaching off to the Lord with her chants.
But alas, age takes toll on her voice as during one of her spellbinding performances at Nabadweep, she falters and leaves the arena, deeply agitated; passing on the responsibility to Radha, still an apprentice but an equally promising singer. Radha carries on her part well but the season of spring seems to affect her heart as she meets Banshi, the replacement to Gagan who is their usual tomtom player.
The simple but illiterate Gagan, otherwise a rickshaw puller, has always been attracted to Krishna Bhabini and though limited in expressing emotions, used to assist the Vaishnavi in the percussions, free of charges, just to feel the warmth of her company. So it was only natural that he found it impossible playing for anybody else and he quit following Bhabini’s fall from grace. But it seems destiny links the hearts of the songster with the percussionist as within the span of few shows Banshi and Radha appear to get bonded by some invisible ties of affection. Krishna Bhabini understands the signs well enough and with the completion of the contract, immediately returns to Malipara, without giving a chance for love to flourish between the two young hearts. But there too is waiting none other than Mathur who proposes to pack them off away from Malipara, with an obvious intention of taking Radha under his clutches. But thanks to providence, Banshi appears on the scene at the nick of time and unobtrusive to all the problems runs off with Radha to live their dreams on the banks of Maurakshi.
That leave an infuriated Mathur and a crestfallen Krishna Bhabini but again love blossomed in the most curious way with Gagan returning and the theatre concluding with Krishna Bhabini and Gagan dancing in unison in the backdrop of Holi, singing the eternal song of love for the Lord.
Apart from the story that is so fittingly dramatized, the next best thing of the Niva Arts production was the various devotional tunes that were fascinatingly performed by the on stage performers. But Dishari Chakrabarty’s music unfortunately seemed to lose balance in the mixing part although the compositions were very well chosen.
Samar Mitra crafted a well designed stage plan.
Joy Sen’s light arrangement could have been well appraised but for the instances when it was felt a bit restrained.
Praise is due to Rabi Ghosh and Saheb for the appropriate costume design and make up that was chromatically tuned with the various sequences in the play.
Cast and Direction:
As to the acting, Manisha Adak’s splendid characterisation of Krishna Bhabini and the imposing presence of Gautam De (Mathur) seemed to steal much of the show but for Turna Das, who with her impressive portraiture of Radha, will surely win many hearts.
Kunal Karmakar’s quadruple role as the drunkard, pickle seller, opera agent and Rakhohari, though short, but deserves special mention for the diversity that he so craftily wove in each of them.
Atish Chanda’s delightful characterization of the naive Gagan not only offered a nice relief but also displayed a deeper understanding of the human soul.
Dipankar Halder’s transitional appearances as Baiju in between the acts maintained the pace of the drama well enough backed by the supporting castes of Sharmi Debnath (Mangala), Shampa Das Sarkar (Tushu) and Anindya Bannerjee (Banshi).
In this two hour show, director Biplab Banerjee defines love from various perspectives – be it Krishna Bhavini’s unconditional passion for the Lord, Gagan and Mathur’s contrasting longings for the Vaishnavi, Banshi’s love for Radha, Tushu’s two long years of yearning for her husband, Mangala’s speculations for her approaching marriage, Krishna Bhavini’s motherly concern towards Radha and the everlasting love for nature that may reside deep inside every human being.
The 4th show held at Tapan Memorial Hall promised an entertaining and soul searching endeavor in the search of love that will continue to attract larger audiences in the coming months.
Photos / Videos: Shrabanti Basu