Tagore's window to the world

Opening with a dance recital on a Bengali song, Dak ghar in its first sequence takes you into the life of a family of three, with a spotlight on the central character Amal. The little boy Amal is ailing from a disease and is kept inside the four walls of his room because the village vaid (doctor) advises that “fiza ki dhoop aur hawa ki nami, dono hi usko nuksaan pahuncha sakti hai” (Both sunshine and moisture in the winds are dangerous for the child). Stepping into the psychological agony of the little child, one can sense his desire of growing up and venturing out of his house while on the other hand, his parents are wracked with agony at the thought of losing their only adopted son to a strange disease. 

Translating and directing Rabindranath Tagore’s play Dak ghar written in 1912, Sheikh Khairuddin brought forth the beauty of the famous play for the first time in Urdu. Performed in Jamia Millia Islamia’s Ansari Auditorium, the play was recently presented by the Department of Urdu under the banner of Tagore Research and Translation Scheme funded by Ministry of Culture.

Looking out from the only window of his room, Amal passes his time catching up with a dahiwali, a watchman, village headman and whoever passes by the road outside his room. He conjures up visions of places all these characters come from and the lives that they lead every day. In all his conversations, he poignantly expresses his desire that it would have been so much better if he could have lead the life they led. Eventually the village king gets a message or letter from the post office describing Amal’s condition. He walks down to meet the boy and orders to punish the village vaid for keeping the boy in such a harsh solitary confinement. In the backdrop, the audience sees Amal falling unconscious and becoming unresponsive to the noise around him. The play ends with a dance performance on the iconic anthem Ekla cholo re.
Such a poignant tale could have easily turned anyone emotional but that wasn’t the case in this auditorium. While the students performed to the best of their abilities, the audience didn’t respect the decorum one usually perceives in a theatre performance; they laughed, mocked at the characters, applauded and passed comments while the performance was going on. Which was such a shame.

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