| Artistes perform Ajnatobaas at the 8th National Theatre Festival in Paradip. Telegraph pictures |
Paradip, March 2: The isolation and insecurity that often gets the better of older people were depicted with subtle artistry on the concluding evening of the 8th National Theatre Festival in Paradip.
On the concluding night of the 10-day fest, the stage was brought alive with a performance by Ajnatobaas (unexplored territory) by the Calcutta-based troupe, Nandikar.
Based on a short story written by Bengali litterateur Sukanta Gangopadhyay, and directed by his younger brother Sumanta Gangopadhyay, the play brought to the fore the trials and tribulations of those in the twilight of their lives.
The modern play meticulously explored the complexities of human relationships. As the characters reflected present-day life, there were visible signs of the audiences’ attachment to the dramatic sequences.
The play’s plot revolves around an old woman afflicted by insomnia and restlessness as advancing age and social surroundings take their toll on her. Circumstances pave the way for her to become acquainted with a young housewife, Payel. Payel’s husband does not take the old woman’s presence in his stride.
He is suspicious of the stranger’s motives. He seeks his doctor-friend’s assistance to diagnose her illness and also makes up his mind to take up the matter with the police.
Then, there is melodramatic twist in the tale. Despite palpable aversion towards the unwanted guest, the couple gradually develop an emotional bond with the elderly woman.
The archetypal central character then bids goodbye to her host while explaining that she has recovered from loss of memory.
Her departure leaves the couple heartbroken.
“The theme is relevant to our lives as each of us is so engrossed in our own lives that we forget our elders,” said Sumanta Gangopahyay, the director who also played the role of Payel’s husband.
“Through light and shadow effects, we tried to depict the predicament of the couple. Initially, the old woman was detested. Later, the dislike changes into warmth of love and affection. The play tries to drive home the message of hope in despair,” said the directorial advisor, Rudra Prasad Sengupta.
Subhashini Mirdha, a theatre lover, said “The play was most realistic. It focussed on the fact that old people need care and warmth.”
Tumi bishash korte chao, etai ashol kotha, (You want to believe and that is the reality): this is the silver line of the play as the old lady tries to explain to Payel’s husband that she would have go back to her near and dear ones despite their warm hospitality.