Theatre festival goes multilingual

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By CHANDRIMA MAITRA
  • Published 24.02.12
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Artistes perform at the Kalinga Natya Mahotsav in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Ashwinee Pati

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 23: Kalinga Natya Mahotsav, the week-long multilingual drama festival, is attracting a large number of theatre lovers to Rabindra Mandap.

Yesterday, theatre group Onuvash presented Der Paisar Pala, a Bengali play based on the life story of jatra artiste Gopal Chandra Das. The story revolves around the feudal days, when theatres and plays were one of the biggest sources of entertainment for the aristocrats and the common men were kept out of purview. Gopal is said to be the first theatre personality to have opened the doors of theatre and jatra to the common people in Bengal.

The performance of the central character, Gopal, played by Shyamal Addya, was appreciable. Other artistes also did a good job. However, few unnecessary scenes could have been easily avoided to make the drama more compact and concise.

“This is our first performance in Bhubaneswar and we chose this play since the central character Gopal hails from Cuttack district. He revolutionised folk theatre in Bengal and poet Rabindranath Tagore was highly influenced by his works,” said director Shiben Banerjee.

The first day of the mahotsav’s 13th season began with an Odia play Suryasta Purabaru performed by artistes of the host theatre group Satabdira Kalakar. Though Dhira Mallick’s direction and the troupe’s popularity had pulled in drama enthusiasts to the show, poor production, however, left them disappointed.

Mallick appeared to have played safe by selecting a sensitive theme on women’s security and monopoly of the elites. But, the play crumbled because of bad dialogues, poor performances and feeble screenplay. The absence of a tighter script and good acting could be felt in the show.

The production team could have been a little more careful while selecting actors as most of the young performers seemed to lack the basic knowledge of acting. Their amateurish expressions and over-the-top acting took away the plot’s essence.

The director’s effort to make the play lively by adding a couple of song and dance numbers, too, seemed wasted. Bad choreography and lack of basic co-ordination in the dance sequences turned out to be an additional torment to the audience. However, there were few pieces that did touch the audience’s heart.

The story revolves around a rape victim and the trauma she undergoes owing to societal pressures. The scene, when the victim’s father sees the distraught condition of his daughter, was moving.

The role of Digambar, played by Partho, deserves a special mention. The veteran actor’s performance stood out in the play. Actress Monidipa also did a good job. Kuni, who played the rape victim, was also impressive in certain scenes. But, her acting, too, lacked finesse and control.

The audience thinned down towards end of the play. “As compared to other plays by the troupe, this one was way below our expectations in terms of script and acting. However, more than theatre the performances as well as the presentation resembled jatra,” said Hari Swain, a viewer.

The mahotsav, which began on Tuesday will feature a plethora of plays directed in different languages such as Hindi, Santhali, Bengali and Odia.