“এভাবে সে হয়ে ওঠে প্রায়শ নূতন ইতিহাস।/ ঘরের ভিতরে বসে দেখি তাকে, পড়ি তাকে,/আরো বেশি করে গড়ি তাকে…” – ‘শোকসভা’, শঙ্খ ঘোষ
By reviewing this production by Purba Paschim, and the almighty’s blessing, I start from today, the newest section in my blog, that of Theatre. I went to watch Ek Mancha Ek Jiban on the 13th of January. The play was staged at Madhusudan Mancha.
The people who are associated with the theatre world, even with the faintest of associations, would have heard the name of Girish Chandra Ghosh, the father of the native stage. He was, the pioneering personality behind the upliftment of the modern Bengali theatre, and was also the curator of the form of theatre that we witness today. Ek Mancha Ek Jiban, is based on the very dramatic life of Girish Ghosh.The curtains open to the scene where famous people, chief amongst them, Bipin Chandra Pal, are offering eulogies to the dead Girish Ghosh, at his funeral. And, the performance ends with Girish Ghosh, writing the preface to Binodini’s (dasi) autobiography.
Soumitra Mitra, creates and interesting space through a very minimal objects. There are few steps in the centre of the stage, some oddly shaped frames are visible through the backdrop, lit up time to time with with some warm lights. From the setting of the funeral, the set changes dimensions throughout the duration of the play. The famous theatre director, Ibrahim Alkazi, once said, that Kurukshetra could be created just with Sanjay’s eyes. Through the minimal set, this production attempts to achieve that level of simplicity.
Playwright of the play is Ujjwal Chattopadhyay. The director playwright duo is successful yet again. This is their third production together, and both have, I feel, done a wonderful job of offering a slice of important history to us viewers.
Debshankar Haldar plays Girish Ghosh in Ek Mancha Ek Jiban. His acting, without doubt is unique. He dresses up like Girish Ghosh, and captivates the whole audience through his performance. In the face of the Bangla Theatre at this time, Debshankar Haldar is omnipresent. He has captured the pulse of the audience through his talent and hard work. But there are certain downsides of having such a powerful player in the team. Other actors at often times become more-than-necessary-dependant on one singular person, this I thing is a scenario that needs a little repair.
Ek Mancha Ek Jiban, has more than a few important scenes and set of important dialogues. Especially the conversations, and exchange of wit between Girish Ghosh and Ramkrishna Paramhansa (Pradip Hait). The Ramkrishna in this production is a convincing. When Ghosh confesses his dilemma between creation and marketing to Ramkrishna, the scene is worth witnessing. Should he create or should he think about selling his creations.
The supporting actors, all have played a suitable part according to their roles. Mentionable is Jhulan Bhattacharyya as Binodini. When she sings, the enactments are particularly captivating. In this age of actresses in high demand, and most of them into tv serials. The actresses give a good performance throughout the play.
I’m going with 3.5/5 stars for Ujjwal Chattopadhyay & Soumitra Mitra’s Ek Mancha Ek Jiban. This play has no end, no caesura. Where it starts, there it ends. This film will remain a true gem in the history of Bengali theatre.