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Discovering a genius

ROMESH CHANDER

The Hindi translation of Buddhadeva Bose's "Pratham Parth" was perhaps one of the best presentations on the Delhi stage.



IMPRESSIVE A scene from the play, "Pratham Parth".

Buddhadeva Bose (1908-1974) was an outstanding personality in Indian literature, a prolific writer who wrote more than 200 books - short stories, novels, poetry and plays - and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award but as a playwright he seems to have been discovered only after his death. And for this, one has to purportedly thank Salil Bhandopadhyaya of Thatron Theatre Group in Kolkata that has produced some of Buddhadeva's plays like "Tapeswi-O-Tarangini", "Kolkatara Electra" and "Anamni Angana". Some of these presentations opened, as it were, a new chapter in the understanding and appreciation of Bose's literary achievements by Kolkata's literary and theatre circles.

And now having seen Buddhadeva Bose's "Pratham Parth" in Manish Manoja and Bapi Bose's Hindi translation as presented by Circle Theatre Company in Bapi Bose's direction this past week, we wonder why has it taken us so long to discover the theatrical genius of an outstanding playwright.

Buddhadeva Bose builds his play around Karan and the time is the eve of the epic battle of Kurukshetra. The play opens with two Brahmins, beautifully played by two of our veteran actors of Jan Natya Manch, who are back on the stage after 12 years - Manish Manoja and Subhash Tyagi. They are discussing about what may happen in the battle that is to begin the next morning. They speak the mind of the common man and feel that neutrality has no meaning. How true!

Epic battle

The scene shifts to Kunti visiting her eldest child on the eve of the epic battle of Kurukshetra. Bapi Bose's lighting design beautifully captures the atmosphere. Kunti tells Karan the secret of her first conception and the circumstances in which she had to abandon him. The entire scene is beautifully conceived and sensitively delivered both by Karan (Ramesh Manchanda) and Kunti (B. Gauri) who is in complete control of the role and leaves us wondering about the motive of her visit. Was it love for her first born or was it to keep him away from the battle to ensure the Pandava's victory?

Draupadi (Vidhu Khare) too visits Karan. What was her real motivation? Was it to make up for Karan's insult in the Swayamwaror to win him over from the Kaurav's to ensure the Pandava's victory, more so of Arjun in particular. The playwright leaves the audiences to decide for themselves.Krishna (Madan Dogra) too visits Karan. His arguments to persuade Karan from not participating in the battle are too well known but Karan's counter arguments, hinting at Krishna's super natural power laced with subtlety, goes down well with the audience.

"Pratham Parth" is perhaps Bapi Bose's best presentation so far. His use of the puppets towards the end and Sangeeta Sharma's dance projecting Karan's uncherished dream would be long remembered. Sangeeta incidentally is the lead performer in Narender Sharma's well-known dance group."Pratham Parth" must be kept alive for it is one of the best Hindi theatrical presentations that we have seen on the Delhi stage over the last ten years or so.

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