The omnirelevance of Rabindranath's Chaar Adhyay
Rabindranath Tagore's novella 'Chaar Adhyay'(Four Chapters) was his second and the last political writing after 'Ghare Baire'. By writing this he drew flak from the Indian nationalists who were then at their energetic best to drive away the colonial forces. They found the spirit and sensitivity of nationalism at that critical juncture, somewhat denounced by the otherwise merging of a love and death narrative, kind of a Liebestod. Playwright Bratya Basu feels that the discomposure experienced during the colonial period marred by World War-II is yet to be exhausted even after eight decades. However, at present, the threats appear in a different form with the fear of a nuclear attack, unreliable leadership, valueless existential crisis and a religious mayhem. Basu adapts 'Chaar Adhyay' to a play which reflects the philosophies shared by a group of young Bengali intellectuals and revolutionaries. The discursiveness of the original is nicely built up in the rich text of the play. The narrative vacillates widely in the corridors of blind love, revolt and ethics of leadership.
The protagonists of the play Ela and Atindra, played by Poulomi Basu and Debshankar Halder respectively, are seen to be negotiating hard with their commitments towards their duties to the nation and their emotional involvement with each other. Ela is unable to overcome her emotional weakness for his fellow revolutionary, Atindra aka Antu and she yearns to start a new life together. Poulomi Basu looks apt as Ela and impresses with her on-stage maturity. She has elevated her performance whereby she spellbounds the audience with her stage presence. She has proved this with her leading performances in 'Meghe Dhaka Tara', 'Ekush Gram', 'Boma', and 'Ke' where she has stood out with experienced actors like Shuvasis Mukhopadhyay, Debshankar Halder and Ritwik Chakraborty. No wonder Poulomi is a strong contender among the current female theatre leads of Bengal. In this play she beautifully represents the love-torn heart of Ela who is in dilemma over her love for the nation and her lover. Babudutta Ray does justice to his role as Indranath. He gets into the character of a strong, resolute, suave leader who does not hesitate to even get two weak members of his team married so that he can easily get rid of them and subsequently nurture the growth of the remaining ruthless young talents to fight for India's freedom. He, in a game of ruthless politics, instigates Ela to remove Atindra. Theatre goers get to see another legend of Bengali theatre, Debshankar Halder in a pivotal role of young Atindra. However, expectations from the veteran artist are so high that he probably needs to deliver a few special punches more to maintain his supremacy in Bangla theatre. His costumes may have worked as a deterrent to reflect the age of the character he was playing, supposedly younger than Ela.
Stage Director Debashis Ray has established his penchant for working on Bratya's varied text that deals with the intricacies of human relationships, like Ila Gurhoisha, Hridipash, Khanjana Ami ar Asbona etc. This time he has managed to deliver a moderate production with good stage craft and light projection. Stage actor, Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay has debuted as the assistant director of the play. Theatre group Sandarva, established in 1977, winner of Paschim Banga Natya Academy Puroskar, has successfully produced another good show under the supervision of Saumya Majumdar who also played the role of Kanai. Apart from a few scenes where the pace of the play slows down, Tagore's drama raises the deviousness of the freedom fighters and their leader through their characters which the playwright has weaved artistically in this tragic, romantic saga.