Presented by Doltala Naatyoshaalaa at Girish Mancha, Jorra-Saanko seeks to reimagine the private lives of the Bengali elite in the early 19th century, focusing particularly on Dwarakanath Tagore (played by Loknath Dey) and his ambitious plans to turn Bengal into an industrial hub. The narrative dismantles the thin veneer that is meant to separate the public from the private, with Dwarakanath’s wife, Digamboree (Debjani Singha), and his adoptive mother, Alokaa (Anasua Dey), representing religious conservatism and Rammohun Roy (Shubho Guptabhaya), along with a clutch of foreigners, including the British baptist minister, William Adam (Shubhashis Ganguly), symbolising the forces of Western scientific rationalism. The trafficking of young girls by the businessman Dwarakanath into the brothels of Sonagachi at a time when Rammohun Roy is trying to eliminate sati is a touch of irony that the audience cannot miss. But his dalliances with other women prove to be the last straw for his wife. Digamboree’s demand for a divorce from her lawfully-wedded husband was impossible according to Hindu scripture; so she contends herself with baths in the Ganges after every engagement with Dwarakanath.
While the playwright, Aroopshankar Moitra, must be commended for his powerful dialogues condemning superstition, it was Singha who stole the show by balancing conflicting impulses — a devoted, orthodox wife who is also independent in thought and action. The costumes designed by Madhumita Dham were particularly eye-catching and the music arranged by Goutam Ghosh ably supplemented the dramatic action.
Performed a stone’s throw away from Sanaullah Gazi’s old haunt, Jorra-Saanko tries to present an alternative portrait of a misunderstood genius who wanted to put Bengal on the world map. But every genius needs his conscience-keeper. Jorra-Saanko thus had Nyarra (Nayana Saha), a worldly-wise termagant, who exposes a deeply hierarchical society’s hypocrisy in the interludes between the scenes.