The Telegraph
Saturday , October 13 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Montage has become more commonplace as a Bengali medium, spanning medleys of disparate sources to melanges integrating excerpts into a cohesive whole. Anantís Ebar Phirao More, invited from Delhi for Kuhakís festival, exemplifies the latter process, applied to Tagoreís works. Ashish Ghosh directs a judicious script of Tagoreís poems, songs, letters, speeches, even extracts from drama and fiction.Thematically centring round the titular line from the 1894 poem in which Tagore turned to his social roots, empathizing with the peasants under his zamindari, Ghosh explores the concept of mukti, whether in Dakghar or Rakta-karabi, in the activities of Santiniketan or Sriniketan. Obviously, nobody can do justice to the diversity of the canon in 90 minutes, so one did feel the neglect of several aspects, such as Tagoreís spirituality and environmental awareness, painting and dance; but the drama provides an overview and sometimes a moving idea of his immense contributions. Anant has an English version too, useful to serve this purpose for non-Bengali audiences. Ghosh (picture) and his wife, Ruma, distribute all parts between themselves, acting and singing.

Inspired by Gita Senís performances of and research into theatre songs, culminating in her book, Atiter Sure, her disciple, Arindam Ray, has put together Aihikís Mahara Chalchhe, a representative sampling of such numbers from the professional repertoire, presented in the form of a fictitious rehearsal for a future stage show. Unlike similar programmes that take the shape of concerts, Ray directs more theatrically, with entertaining enactments of the timeless songs as well as educative recollections of associated anecdotes and stage history, while creating the extempore nature of a practice in progress. His selection covers the big names: Girish Ghosh, D.L. Roy, Kshirodprasad Vidyavinod, Sisir Bhaduri, among others. One hopes Aihik next takes up the real challenge of its actors doing their own singing.

Theatre Nandik unpretentiously titles its production Ekti Collage, a succinct description. In the first half, director Niladree Bhattacharya theatricalizes three poems by Joy Goswami, Tagoreís ďAfricaĒ and scenes from Rakta-karabi and Guru (a good choice, a play not normally staged). After the interval, the contemporary political angle grows clearer with pieces by Brecht, Sankha Ghosh, Purnendu Pattrea, Nirendranath Chakrabarti, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Srijato, Rupam Islam, and scenes from Badal Sircarís Tringsha Shatabdi and Ebang Indrajit. The singing, however, often goes off-key, and the dramatizations of lyrics mostly develop standard workshop exercises not worthy of public display. Still, we commend this attempt to enthuse youth in Kanchrapara (more actresses required, though) into experimentation on texts.