'A saga of love, crime, incest and insecurity'

Bitter Truths

'A saga of love, crime, incest and insecurity'

Delhi has always been a flourishing ground for theatre – classics, contemporary, English, Hindi and even regional language-based. Theatre festivals like Bharat Rang Mahotsav have been staging the traditionally-popular Marathi and Asomiya plays for years now, but seeing a stand-alone Bengali play being performed anywhere in Delhi, is still a rarity.

Therefore, when the brilliant (and yet relatively-unknown) Bengali theatre troupe Aamra Kajon rendered their acclaimed play Gotroheen recently, Bengali theatre lovers from across the city came down to the venue. Muktadhara auditorium near Gole Market was chock-a-block as a most sensitive human drama - the adaptation of Arthur Miller’s A view from the bridge – unfolded in all its details.

Aamra Kajon has been doing theatre in the city for 28 years now. It started with a few college-going theatre-enthusiast Bengali boys and has since grown to include more than 150 actors. Its director, a gifted actor himself, Rabishankar Kar, says, “In the 80s, Bengali theatre was a rage among the government employees in Delhi from that community.

Several troupes would be performing in Kashmere Gate, Timarpur and Moti Bagh area all the time. Over years, of course, most faded away and only a few like us have survived.”Thankfully for Aamra Kajon, they have not just survived but are doing well for themselves.

Their latest production Gotroheen won them a battery of awards at the prestigious Prokashchondro Ghosh Memorial Drama Competition in Lucknow recently. For the play, Rabishankar says, “I have always been a fan of Arthur Miller. I have staged his The crucible and The price already and now made a trilogy with A view... Arthur has a way of etching out each character and defining the relations between them which makes for great plays.”

Gotroheen certainly gave a reflection of that to the audience. It is the story of a longshoreman Sallek, his wife Jainab and niece Shaheen who live in a port area of Bengal. Since the parents of Shaheen died, Sallek started taking care of her and eventually became very close. The peace of the family is shattered when Jainab’s distant relatives – illegal immigrants from a neighbouring country – come seeking shelter there.

One of the immigrants Nilu develops a relation with Shaheen and Sallek realises he cannot tolerate that.

The original play, penned by Miller, was set in America with an immigrant Italian family, but it is to the credit of Rudroprasad Sengupta – an acclaimed Bengali playwright – who first adapted it in Indian context.

Aamra Kajon also deserves great appreciation for the par-excellence performance of each actor – namely Rabishankar as Sallek, Manika Ganguly as Jainab, Mohana Basu as Shaheen, Shankar Roy as Nilu, Kabir Sen as Enayat and Sandeep Bagchi as the lawyer-narrator Mohammad Harun. They really brought alive each character as probably Miller would have conceived them.

Mohana, who essayed the role of Shaheen most perfectly, spoke to Metrolife, “I have done a number of plays with Aamar Kajon up till now but indeed Gotroheen has been the most challenging experience. It not just deals with hidden human emotions – love, incest and criminal tendencies – but also the world of migrants. How they live, the untold, undefined rules among them, their insecurities – are all brought out in Gotroheen.” One hopes Aamra Kajon gets more audience, even if they have to present it with subtitles.

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