A tale of love, a tale of yearning, a tale of poetic cadence – Bukjhim Ek Bhalobasha is more than just a tragic love story performed on stage. An otherwise common story of medieval romance between a boyati – Mansur and a princess, a dewan’s sister – Chand Sultana, enacted on Friday evening at Triguna Sen Auditoriam stole the hearts of all its audiences by invoking a language that can connect shekal (past) with ekal (present). With a powerful performance from Sraman Chatterjee and the rest of the cast, Sarbajit Ghosh and Suhanishi Chakraborty, the act effortlessly transported us into a world where poetry and rhythm dominates, where love is not so inconceivable an affair as it is in our prosaic world. But what has helped them to create this lyrical ambience?
Sraman Chatterjee, who features as the solo actor-narrator of this play has stated that he owes it to Syed Shamsul Haque’s creation of language – the fusion of his personal style with the Boyati language – “The way Haque has created the bridge through which we can start identifying with the people who we cannot remotely identify with otherwise – that bridge of language is wonderful… there is a certain rhythm in the language of the text”. He further opines “It is language and our body, our mind that fuse into expression of emotions and when a text is this potent it is bound to create ripples in our mind, body, and diction”. And so he felt that this language of Moimansingha Geetika fused with modern lyrical intonations could alone take us into such a remote time; his goal was “restoring the language and projecting it throughout the narration.”
But could only Haque’s written language have the power of producing such a moving performance? Was it so easy expressing that age old canonical story of unrealized love free from the feeling of monotony? A student of Comparative Literature and bred in a culture of art Sraman from a very early age was familiar to these stories and his connection to these was automatised. But this group in their act have never tried to fake the portrayal of the original Boyati culture of medieval Bengal, the environment in which the characters of this story belong. As Sraman says “If we try to mimic the boyati practice then it would be merely mimicry and that is disrespectful, as we don’t belong to that esoteric tradition of storytelling.”
And the music director Subhadeep Guha thought in the same line. Hence the music also coalesced elements of modernity and tradition. So in a couple of songs they have kept the schematic notations from Boyati music; and the soulful tunes of bansi pervaded the act but there was also elaborate \use of Banjo and Guitar. The music in the play was made to deliver the emotions of the characters but did not try to copy the tradition; the music has only enhanced the piquant storytelling.
The lights and the setting have also added colours to the lyricism of the play. Sraman explained how they tried to create a palette that would keep a consistency of emotions within the changing landscapes of the drama. The lights have not only helped register the change of locales but also the rippling blue waves and sinful red lights spoke a language of pathos and agony that need not be uttered in words.
The setting was kept simple and sketchy. As Sraman has mentioned, “We could have tried to make something which looks like dewanermahal or stuff like that… but our art-director Koustabh Chakrabarty thought that we should go with certain patterns of colour that constantly relate to the river Brahmaputra and its waves. The landscape that we were invoking is not present here anymore so there is no point in trying to simulate that landscape through technicalities… the simplicity has a lot to do with the fact that we wanted and believed in relying on the language. When language is serving the purpose there is no need of subsidising the language…”
The language of this play was not merely the utterances; Sraman names it “the human language” which manifests in the realm of human cognition. “And what is a love-story other than cognition!”, exclaims Sraman. This play helps us recognise this long lost language of love by fusing the medieval romantic world with modern lyrics of sensation. Sraman with his exquisite performance must have learnt and felt the language best and by sharing his feelings has let us delve deeper into this world of love and unravel its language…
● Moments from the play ●