The stage presentation of the cult novella Devdas by Dum Dum Bratyajon, in the form of a musical opera, is visibly an attempt to deconstruct the mythical 'syndrome' of the iconic character. Here, Devdas, a tragic, histrionic and a stereotypical love smitten hero of 1971, as written by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay is brought under a scanner and the female leads, Parvati (Paro) and Chandramukhi are subsequently empowered to question the regressive gender norms of our society. The Principle artificer of the project, Bratya Basu dives deep into the classical character in search of its present day relevance and reconstructs the narrative of Devdas. The current social issues too are aptly incorporated using subtle and effective metaphors in the process.
The play deviates from the formula trend followed by the sullen and sexist protagonist and uses elements of melodrama and viability to subvert the 'romanticism' of an estranged lover. The specialty of the form lies in the innovative use of two singers who belt out live chartbusters one after another to add an "outsider's" perspective to suit the satirical features of the production. The Bengali words used in translated songs are carefully chosen and impeccably timed to carry the original flavor of the songs in their performative excess. Basu with his team headed by director Prantik Choudhury interestingly uses overdramatic background scores from Bolly/Tollywood in sync with the hackneyed and flat expressions of actors infusing a punch of gawkiness in the production. Script-writer Sudip Sinha has admirably enhanced the characterisation of female characters of Paro and Chandramukhi, projecting them as agents of change in their own right.
Pradip Majumdar who plays the role of Devdas's father in the play, anchors Dum Dum Bratyajon well to produce an age old literary piece in its postmodern version. Prantik as a director shows maturity in depicting the radical reconstruction of the narrative on stage. He, with another well-known theatrical mind, Prithwis Rana keeps the experiment going with an intelligent stage craft and lighting. Young artists, Arunava Dey and Suchandra Bhattacharya are a visual treat as they tune their performances to match the level. Sumit Roy perfectly portrays Devdas's tantrums and mockery on stage with his physical acting. The actor-sister duo, Debjani Sinha as Chandramukhi and Debleena Sinha as Paro, show their prowess as actors and raise the theatre to another level. Chunilal, acted by Sumanta Roy falls a bit short of expectation. The fight sequence performed to perfection leaves the audience gasping for breath.
Dishari Chakraborty needs a special mention for seamlessly harmonizing the musical components to shape up the format of this tuneful extravaganza.This New Year thus witnessed another stimulating presentation with Bratya radically changing the content and form of a conventional narrative with his experimental fervor.