Students bring a play of proximity

A scene from Raddi Bazaar

A scene from Raddi Bazaar

Raddi Bazaar was staged by students under the direction of Santanu Bose. The show is based on three of Badal Sircar’s best-known and most often staged plays, Evam Indrajit, Pagla Ghoda and Baaki Itihaas. Evam Indrajit is a play about the idealist in confrontation with the ordinary. The three ordinary Amal, Kamal and Vimal against Indrajit.

In Pagla Ghoda we see a confrontation between a woman who is dead and her erstwhile boyfriend who sacrificed his love for friendship. The conversation which is replayed under different situations at the crematorium is an exercise in nihilism.
The last play Baki Itihaas celebrates fatalism where man is declared incapable of changing things he himself has created.
What does the director and designer of the play Santanu Bose have to say about the play? In his note he writes, “The play is about proximity. Three different plays have been cut and put together. Baaki Itihaas creates the armature of the narrative while Pagla Ghoda intervenes and re-routes. Evam Indrajit has been used as a lost narrative in video images. The auditorium has been stripped, bars have been pulled down and drops of water fall on the floor. Actors speak and the speech goes on. They mean and try to mean what they do not say.”
The main movement of the play is through the lives of Seetanath and his wife Vasanti as they move about their lives lived at the top of the “joyful” scale. They are ecstatic in each other until there is an interruption in their lives by Vidhibhuushan, the headmaster of the school where Seetanath teaches. The reason for this is the request to Seetanath to retract the punishment of rustication he has announced for the boy he caught reading Nobokov’s novel Lolita. Seetanath is convinced that the novel is a corrupting influence and initially would rather resign then change his mind.
Vasanti then tells Vijay, their common friend and confidante, about the event in the forest that altered Seetanath for ever. He refused to speak and look at Parvati, the young girl who was their constant companion in the forest that they were visiting. On probing Seetanath reveals that he saw a robber sexually assault a young girl. And he was scared that he would do the same thing to Parvati or even to Gauri, the young daughter of a colleague. Vijay and Vasanti manage to convince him regarding his misjudgment about Lolita and he decides to write a letter of apology to Vishnubhushan and retract his punishment.
The lack of Bengali was a problem in understanding the Sahijas which came at crucial points in the play. The film clips also presented a similar problem when one had the opportunity to notice them, which was rare.
The performances by the cast of students was surprisingly good. Among those who were most impressive were Sonmoni Sarma as Vijay, Mangla Kaduba Sanap as Vasanti, Ashok Kumar as Seetanath. They were able to do justice to the designer’s concept. Also good were Amita Sharma as Malti and Kacho Ahmed Khan as Sharadindu.

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