Neither for grey cells, nor for heart

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By Sharmila Basu Thakur
  • Published 2.09.05

Who can forget Char Adhyay, Raktakarabi or Raja, remarkable dramatisation of Tagore’s unique pieces by Sambhu Mitra, the doyen of Bengali theatre? Chandali, the latest production of Pancham Baidik, is not only Saoli Mitra’s first venture in the Tagorean arena, but also a significant entry to her father’s domain (Uttam Mancha, August 22).

Based on Tagore’s Chandalika (Sambhu Mitra himself had a dream to stage it), Chandali was presented by Saoli on her father’s 90th birth anniversary. It was not a dance-drama, neither a tale of a girl from a lower caste as commonly interpreted. Instead, it was an attempt to capture the delicate nuances of human relationships. The passion of a woman and its consequences must have forced Saoli to dramatise Chandalika, which has its roots in Buddhist literature.

Chandali explored the complex and delicate nature of the human mind through dialogues, songs and dances. Saoli interpretated the theme well, but the play failed to make any point, moral, social or otherwise. Barring a few glimpses, this sensitive artiste could not establish herself in her portrayal of Ma. It is hard to believe that memorable productions like Nathabati Anathabat and Katha Amritasaman were created by the same artiste.

A minimalist set with a well at the centre was appropriate. Arpita Ghosh as Prakriti needed to tone down. Her over-the-top acting hampered the subtle moments of crisis. She could not manage to handle the different hues of the emotional upheaval of Prakriti.

Mama duksher sadhana revealed the latent drama of the sequence. With lots of interaction between the mother and daughter, the play could not move forward. Even the dance sequence of Rasatala basini nagini (helped by Sruti Bandopadhyay) in black costume was an ordinary one which could not be expected from an artiste of her stature. The performance neither stimulated the grey cells nor touched the heart.

Saugandhikam, in association with the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, presented Tagore’s Chitrangada at Bharatiyam on August 30. Choreographed by Sanjukta Banerjee, it was neat, but run-of-the-mill in quality. Banerjee, a Bharatnatyam dancer with a stunning stage presence, displayed commendable poise in her performance.

She established the character of Chitrangada with bold and beautiful movements of Bharatnatyam and Mohiniattam. However, her facial expression seemed mechanical and stereotyped which were not expected from her. Also, a dearth of good male dancers led to a couple of faces to be featured repeatedly, often irritatingly.

Kaushik Chakraborty, a Kathakali dancer trained by Guru Govindan Kutty, showed too much of Kathakali gestures ? strong facial expressions ? as Arjuna, and this sometimes destroyed the essence of the character. Nothing much could be expected from the students of an institution which is still in the process of learning this art form. However, Diptangshu Pal as Madan, the character which has nothing much to do in usual choreographies, was good.

In the concluding scene, the merry-go-round-like shapes of colours as the backdrop was simply ridiculous.