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Of rape and rights

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 31.03.13

Some shivered with fear, others had tears in their eyes. Even before the curtains went up for the first of two plays directed by Rijita Chatterjee and staged at Kalakunj on March 16, the shrieks of a girl in despair and the laughter of her assaulters filled the auditorium.

Grope and Grab, a 120-minute play by Part Time Lovers, dealt with a rape and its aftermath.

“People asked me why this? I answered why not? If you can watch it on television why not on stage?” said Rijita, who played the role of the rape victim.

Besides the acting, make-up and costumes, what caught the audience’s eye is the use of mannequins as props.

“I am a rape survivor myself and ever since I have been working for this cause. We cry and wind up and as time passes, people forget about it. I have used very little but bold make-up for the actors, something that will go well with the situation the play is depicting,” said Pranaadhika Devburman, the make-up and costume designer.

“The mannequins were brilliantly used. I liked the way they showed how a woman’s body is considered a toy,” said Varsha Chowdhury, who works in the retail industry. “The props were all very symbolic, very intelligently used,” said her husband and placement consultant, Ranajit Chowdhury.

While some in the audience, especially the elders, found the language a bit harsh, others felt the harshness was much-needed for an authentic portrayal of the rapists.

The second play, Lipsticks and Muscles, dealt with homosexuality and the troubles faced by a gay couple, played by Shubrahneel Bandyopadhyay and Saurav Das, and how their friends and colleagues treat them. Pratigya Ghosh and Rijita, who played girls who discover that they are lesbians, deserve special mention.

“The characters in this play are large and bold with formidable postmodern thoughts that go beyond the realms of post-modernity and portray images of contemporary issues, objectified and deconstructed. The play is built on the principle that one’s genital is the key to freedom,” said Rijita.

“One must have the right and the sexual freedom to not only choose but to celebrate one’s sexual identity. It was an attempt to speak out against the injustice that the LGBT community faces and the play is about identity rather than sexuality,” she added.

Colonel Jai Govind, who came with his wife and daughter, said: “You need courage to put up plays like these, hats off to them.”

Pankaj Kumar Mullick in Daktar

Tribute by grandson

A three-day tribute to music legend Pankaj Kumar Mullick (1905-1978) took off with the screening of a documentary, The Reel Story, by Mullick’s grandson Rajib Gupta at Gyan Manch on March 8.

The documentary focusses on Mullick’s contribution to Indian cinema. It has footage, stills and interviews of celebrities talking about his compositions, singing and acting on screen.

Filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta was the chief guest at the event, organised by Pankaj Kumar Mullick Foundation.

Post screening, Gupta shared with Metro what a tall task it was to put it all together, considering most prints of Mullick’s films were gutted in the New Theatres fire in 1940. The copies he acquired from its archives were not enough. For over eight years, he scouted archives all over the world and got hold of prints from Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“I got a lot of material from private collections of fans,” said Gupta. “That’s how I acquired Kasturi and Doctor... Nartaki I got from a source in Gujarat... but Kapalkundala seems to be lost forever and I had to use stills and film booklets from our family archive.”

The documentary had footage from Bhagya Chakra (1935) that was remade as Dhoop Chhaon in Hindi. Mullick and R.C. Boral had composed its music.

With P.C. Barua’s Mukti (1937), Mullick made his debut as an independent music director and actor. For its Bengali version, Mullick had sought permission from Tagore to set his verse Shesh Kheya to music as Diner Sheshe Ghumer Deshe.

The documentary features Mullick in his actor-singer role in Daktar (Doctor in Hindi). It also highlights his friendship with K.L. Saigal who sang some of his best songs, leaving assignments in Mumbai to join him.

The stalwarts who spoke on Mullick and his use of elements of Western music in film scores (much of the footage was sourced from Doordarshan) included Naushad, O.P. Nayyar, Gulzar, Lata Mangeshkar and Tapan Sinha. The documentary also has a rare clip of Mullick talking about his own work.

Marathon Mahabharat

A scene from Urubhangam, a six-hour play to be staged by Kasba Arghya

A six-hour production, Urubhangam, will be staged overnight (11pm to 5am) by Kasba Arghya at Rabindra Sadan on April 6. Directed by Manish Mitra, the play is a concise version of Mahabharat and will be enacted by a national cast.

Arghya’s production is partly inspired by ancient playwright Bhasa’s Sanskrit work of the same name. It will be multilingual — a major part in Bengali, a small part in Sanskrit and a few lines in English.

The actors include Sooraj Nambiar, a Sangeet Natak award winner from Kerala, Ajith Kumar, a Kalaripayattu artiste from Trivandrum, Ambali Praharaj, a Bharatanatyam dancer and a group of Santhals.

A talk on the play will be held the next day at Nandan 4.

Wikipedia workshop

Wikipedians in the city came together at Netaji Subhash Engineering College in Garia on March 11 to explain to prospective contributors how they can enrich the online encyclopaedia. Twenty-one people were chosen from the 40 who had signed up for the event, a part of Avenir, the college fest.

After a brief introduction, Wikipedians Rangan Datta and Jayanta Nath conducted a session on editing a Wikipedia article. The participants together created the write-up on Lascar War Memorial at Hastings.

This was followed by a session by Yuvi Panda, Harsh Kothari and Sucheta Ghoshal on how to code for Wikipedia, which explained to newbies how to customise the look and feel of a contribution and share the customisations with others.

(Contributed by Malancha Dasgupta and Sebanti Sarkar)