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Sunday , July 13 , 2014
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Tall tales in Tenida territory

Suman Mukhopadhyay’s theatre group Tritiyo Sutra is ready with a new play, Jara Agun Lagay, that the director is calling “a morality play without a moral”. Adapted from Swiss dramatist Max Frisch’s classic The Fire Raisers into Bengali by Nabarun Bhattacharya, “it’s a tale about our personal weaknesses in the face of evil. It is after all we who hand over power and responsibility to those who are immoral. I thought that the tale is topical in the global aspect,” explained Mukhopadhyay (left), who has suffered at the hands of the state machinery in recent weeks over what can at best be called a morality play. With music by Debojyoti Mishra, sets by Hiran Mitra and costumes by Dev R Nil, Jara Agun Lagay premieres at Academy of Fine Arts on Sunday at 3pm followed by repeat shows on July 19 and 26 at 10am. For tickets one could line up at the Academy’s box office or buy them at (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)

The lane wasn’t more than two-and-a-half feet wide and if someone came from the opposite direction, you had to flatten yourself against the wall to let them pass.

That wasn’t the first super-narrow lane I was negotiating on the occasion because there are quite a few of them around Baithakkhana Road and that’s where I was.

I wouldn’t have given it a second thought if I hadn’t noticed a door on this lane that had a number, followed by “Potoldanga Street”.

My lips instantly curved into a smile as I remembered the area’s most famous resident — Tenida, Narayan Gangopadhyay’s immortal creation that has had generations going “di la grandi mephistopheles yak yak”! Though the character of Tenida was fictional, Narayan Gangopadhyay had created him based on his landlord, Probhat Mukherjee.

Everyone loved the big-talking leader of the group of four youths, who’s claim to fame, among other things, was his extremely sharp nose (khnarar moto naak). Even though he was terrible in academics, the three (Pyalaram, Habul and Kyabla) admired Tenida for his honesty, spunk and insatiable appetite!

I called out to my friend who was a few steps ahead of me. “Hey! We’re in the locality of Tenida!”

“Yes, that’s my grandpa.” A voice said from behind me.

I spun around to see a little girl, not more than nine, walking towards me with a satchel on her back. My eyes immediately went to her nose, where a pair of black-framed spectacles were perched. It wasn’t anything like Tenida’s legendary peak!

“Are you serious?” I asked incredulously.


She said it so sincerely that I didn’t find any reason not to believe her. Perhaps I wanted to believe her.

I looked at my friend with a surprised-cum-thrilled smile on my face and he returned the same expression. I had a hundred questions to ask the little girl but I didn’t know where to start.

But when I turned back again, she was gone.

Artistic Macbeth

A scene from Macbeth staged at Kala Mandir. (Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya)

Artistic beauty and precision of expression defined Ratan Thiyam’s Macbeth, staged at Kala Mandir on June 26. Premiered at Thiyam’s Shrine playhouse in Imphal on February 14, this production by the Chorus Repertory Theatre has gained in both strength and lustre. As Sudarshan of Sapphire Creations Dance Company put it, “I think the visual narrative moves beyond the text and the language, which will overwhelm audiences worldwide. I have always loved this non-verbal body language that Chorus works with”.

Director-actor Kaushik Sen said he liked Thiyam’s interpretations very much.

Thiyam is already contemplating his next production. “This time I think we will do a classical Sanskrit play translated into Manipuri. This is necessary to create awareness about the classics. It’ll be a light play and we will go through a workshop once we get the funds” he said.

Thirteen in a circle

Is it not weird that as a race, as the most rational beings on earth, we remember nothing of our beginning? Is it not stupid of us to ridicule our existence by living in constant fear of the end? We survive in the middle with either leg in uncertainty. Is it not dangerous for us to exist without having the capability to define our existence?

Ashish Avikunthak

Thirteen people sit in a circle and ask these questions. Among them are six couples and a priestess gathered for a mass marriage at a desolate temple. In this intersection of love, hope, lust, wisdom and judgement, they raise pertinent questions. Spanning a single shot of 102 minutes, this is Rati Chakravyuh, a film by experimental filmmaker Ashish Avikunthak that had its first public screening at Experimenter in collaboration with Chatterjee & Lal, an art gallery in Mumbai.

Avikunthak’s Beckettian narrative is disturbing for it attempts to demolish our deep-rooted beliefs. Did Ram kill Ravana or did he let him go because Sita was irrevocably in love with the 10-headed devil? Krishna loved Radha, so why did he choose to kill the woman in her dreams? What does the expression “ok” mean? Does it just define a state of mediocrity or also explain the mystery called Budhha?

The script has been divided among the 13 people with the camera moving to each of their faces as they speak. The narrative flows like stream of consciousness. If you close your eyes, it could well be a soliloquy.

“I wanted to focus on the main idea... the idea of time. In my productions, cinema is an ontological experience. The audience, in this case, needs to work harder than me. I believe the only way of experiencing time is ontologically,” said Avikunthak.

He calls himself “more a film artist than a filmmaker” and says he doesn’t care what his audience thinks of the subject of his story. He sticks to an artist’s job of creating.

Lt-Gen Aniruddha Chakravarty interacts with visually impaired youngsters at the eye donation camp

Before the credits start rolling, the audience learns that the 13 individuals who had gathered for the mass marriage have consummated the service in a mass suicide. Avikunthak said he was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper.

Currently an assistant professor of film media at the Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island, Avikunthak spoke of the despondency of life, hope and love and the vicious circle we are all entangled in.

Gift of sight

An eye donation camp was organised by the NCC Directorate (West Bengal and Sikkim) and Sankara Nethralaya Eye Bank on Outram Road on July 11. It was inaugurated by Lt-Gen Aniruddha Chakravarty, the director-general of NCC, and saw participation from defence personnel, NCC cadets and civilians. The awareness programme, which started on July 2, aims at reaching out to at least 100,000 donors by November. Already over 2,000 donors have signed the pledge form.

Santaap (Remorse) was presented by Pratyay Gender Trust at Gyan Manch on June 27. A Rangasram production, the plot revolves around the lives and plight of transgenders, showing how they are subject to indignity and robbed of basic human rights. (Anindya Shankar Ray)

Contributed by Arnab Nandy, Sebanti Sarkar, Trina Chaudhuri and Mohua Das