A touch of Bengal

Debarati Palit
Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Two Bengali groups from the city are staging two popular plays on Sunday. Shanta Datta, member of Nandanik Sanstha and producer of the plays, talks about them

Bengali theatre lovers in Pune can look forward to something special this Sunday. Nandanik Sanstha, a socio-cultural group based in Kalyaninagar and Koregaon Park, and Dishari, another well-known drama group, are coming together for the second time for Ekti Natya Shondha (an evening of drama). The groups will stage two iconic plays — Shrimati Bhayankari, (to be enacted by artists of Nandanik Sanstha) and Buro Shaliker Ghare Ron (to be staged by artists of Dishari). The theme for this year’s programme is ‘Chetana Manchey….Light, Sound, Stage’, which means ‘In the platform of life, we play out drama with light, sound and stage”.

Shrimati Bhayankari, written by Gautam Roy, is a comedy revolving around marriages of two sisters who are completely opposite in nature. The search for a suitable boy for the young and fiery sister in particular, creates many funny situations.

Buro Shaliker... written by veteran poet and dramatist Michael Madhusudan Dutta, is a satire which deals with a certain period of time in the history of rural Bengal when feudalism was on the wane and colonialism was on the rise. An extremely lecherous old landlord wishes to acquire a Muslim girl as his concubine. However, his effort is thwarted by the ready wit of a Muslim couple, following which the landlord is in a fix.

Shiladitya Roy, who has been associated with theatre for a very long time, is directing Buro Shaliker... and Charubrata Ray, senior corporate executive, is directing Shrimati Bhayankari. The members of the groups are acting in the play.

Shanta Datta, member of Nandanik Sanstha and producer of the plays, says that the purpose behind organising the event is to promote theatre among Bengali youngsters and also those living away from Bengal. “The second generation of Bengalis is losing touch with our culture. So we are introducing them to Bengali poetry, films of Satyajit Ray, Sukumar Ray and so on,” she says.

She adds that they are also trying to bring Marathi and Bengali theatre together. “We do not want to restrict our theatre to ourselves and reach out to others also, specially the Marathi community because they too have a rich theatre background. We felicitate Marathi theatre personalities. This year, we have invited Marathi playwright Atul Phethe. A part of our earnings from the play will cover the production cost and the rest we will give to these talented personalities,” she adds.

Pune police commissioner Rashmi Shukla will be the chief guest for the event and Shanta says the reason for inviting Shukla is that both these plays are about empowering women. “These plays belong to an era when Bengal was totally ruled by men and women didn’t have a say in any matter. In Shrimati..., the protagonist controls all men who come into her life. It has a strong message for women. Getting Rashmiji would help spread the message of women empowerment,” says Shanta.

Shanta herself is a big fan of  Michael Madhusudan Dutta and can’t stop raving about the dramatist. She says, “Micheal hated the darkness of Hindu religion so he converted to Christianity which was a big step back then. He was supremely talented. He used to dictate his poems and works to Brahmins who translated them into Sanskrit. He dealt with satire and it took a lot of courage to write satires back then. Usually in theatre, Micheal is not touched. It’s mostly Ranbindranath Tagore and Badal Sarkar’s works that we see, so I am very excited.”

Shanta also praises Madhumita Ghosh, president of Dishari, who has put up many successful plays like Haterbajar, Teener Talwar etc. “Tirelessly Dishari has been promoting Bengali theatre.”

ST Reader Service
Catch the plays at Mahatma Phule Sanskrutik Bhavan on July 16 from 5.45 pm onwards

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