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Our lives, their world

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The Telegraph Online Published 19.08.06, 12:00 AM

So long, the spotlight has always been firmly on her, whether she was taking the stage or steering the show from backstage. But now Saoli Mitra is keen to pass on the baton. For Poshu Khamar, to premiere on August 22 at Academy of Fine Arts, Saoli has delegated the directorial task to troupe member Arpita Ghosh and settled for a “small but significant role” in a 36-strong cast.

“I thought I would look after the music and lighting arrangements this time… It’s time my juniors learnt to do it themselves,” smiles Saoli.

Pancham Vaidik has taken up George Orwell’s anti-establishment novel Animal Farm for the group feels the content is still very relevant.

“I feel Animal Farm is a pro-democratic novel and it has tremendous parallels with our present-day lives. Everywhere it’s the politicians who are deciding what we should do… Poshu Khamar is not aimed at any particular political set-up in Bengal because the play has a bigger dimension,” says Saoli. “Adapting a novel into a play was very difficult, but there are no traces of the novel in Poshu Khamar. We have tried to retain Orwell’s satire which is very subtle.”

Saoli plays Clover, “a stout motherly mare”, in the play where animals behave like humans and gang up to overthrow their oppressive human masters before succumbing to the same dictatorial flaws themselves.

“Clover is a very important character and its significance increases from the third act onwards,” says director Arpita who dramatised the novel and cajoled Saoli into enacting the role.

Arpita, who had earlier translated Jean-Paul Sartre for Ekti Rajnaitik Hotya, has deviated from Orwell and ended the play on an optimistic note as she felt “Animal Farm couldn’t only have been a satire”.

Poshu Khamar will not use any animal costumes, instead the human characters will wear masks. The play is being staged on August 22 to mark Sambhu Mitra’s birth anniversary. “That’s our tribute to him,” says Saoli.

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