| A scene from Sonar Sojaar Pokhilaa.Picture by Eastern Projections
A state-level children’s drama festival, organised jointly by the Navakanta Barua Foundation and Guwahati-based cultural troupe Pothaar, at Rabindra Bhawan from December 27 to 30, featured seven plays presented by groups from different parts of Assam.
Of the seven plays staged in the festival, the first three — Abhijaanar Shesat, Shoioshabar Simanaat and Sonar Sojaar Pokhilaa deserve special mention.
Abhijaanar Shesat, presented by Akoni Shilpee Samaj, Dhekiajuli, was about how a small group of slum children rescue an abducted girl. The kidnapper, along with the girl, Popy, a Class VI student, makes a stopover in the shanty of a family in the slum, by offering some money. Later, when the kidnapper falls asleep, Popy narrates her abduction to the group of four children playing outside. They plan to stop the train that passes by the slum and hand over Popy to the guard of the train who assures them that he would ensure Popy’s safe return home. Written by Binod Bhagavati and directed by Suresh Bhagavati, the play was refreshing to the core, in content, treatment and performance.
The next play, Shoioshabar Simanaat, deals with a shocking incident faced by a group of children while rehearsing for a play. The young woman training them is their favourite mentor, Jyotiba.
One day, when Jyotiba fails to turn up for the session, the children start rehearsing for the play themselves. They soon realise that they could grasp what Jyotiba had taught them even in the absence of their mentor.
Suddenly, a child storms in and tells them that Jyotiba had died in a blast at a market several minutes ago. The children became mute and motionless. While they knew they could execute the play according to their mentor’s instructions, they fail to fathom what Jyotiba could have done to earn such a death.
The play, presented by the Golaghat-based Seuj Tirtha with a cast of over 20 artistes, made the audience ponder as to what impact such a horrific incident may have on the minds of the children.
The third play, Sonar Sojaar Pokhilaa, presented by the cultural troupe Ferengadao of Lokhra, Guwahati, was about how a child’s mental growth gets affected by his parents’ greed for money, wealth and power.