It is often said that success comes when the heart, mind and soul are put together, even if it is for the smallest of acts…
And this is what Dil ki Duniya, a very new group in the world of Bengali theatre, proved on Thursday evening at Sisir Mancha through their short musical performance. Based on Ismat Chughtai’s Afsaanas, Gharwali and Kafir, Dil ki Duniya presented to us a pure world of heart where hypocrisy and pretensions are given no regard.
Lajo in Gharwali, a loose and immoral woman in the eyes of society, wins our heart with the acceptance of her predicament without complaints and even finding happiness inspite of her situation. Her love was more for the ‘ghar’ of Mirza than the master of the house (Mirza) and society couldnot stop her from staying there. Kafir, on the other hand, was solely a celebration of love between two individuals where religious differences and social institutions couldnot hold them down.
With the help of musical interludes, effortlessly expressing the expurgated emotions, and spontaneous acting of the large ensemble cast, the act has certainly made a place in the heart of the audience.
>> Moments from Dil Ki Duniya <<
Debleena has done a wonderful work by directing the act that is enacted by so many talented people from the world of art and theatre. We will certainly be able to draw more insight about itfrom a short conversation with the director –
Bongrong: Dil Ki Duniya is a new theatre group, almost a supergroup, formed of many creative people from different groups. Tell us how it came to be.
Debleena: Dil ki Duniya is not a group – I mean not in the group theatre sense of the term! As of now we are simply a group of people who are staging this play together. Nabaneetadi (DevSen) has an organization for creative women called SOI which arranges an annual cultural programme. This year I got the chance to be a part of the programme. It was dedicated to Ismat Chughtai and Nabaneeta di had requested us to perform a play for this event. Though primarily I had planned a very short presentation, many creative and talented people enthusiastically participated and we ended up with this large ensemble cast. As we say in the play, when we were asked to name the entity presenting the play, we simply said it would be Dil ki Duniya, presenting ‘Dil ki Duniya’! Initially it was decided that Dil Ki Duniya would be a one-time production. But after getting much appreciation, and more than that working together gave us so much happiness that we are thinking of working together after this…
Bongrong: So many creative people and all belonging to different groups were working together. Was it easy to blend?
Debleena: At first I was very tensed. I knew each cast member personally but the whole group had never worked together before, some had not even met earlier and there was no time for team building workshops! We plunged into script reading and somehow a very comfortable environment created itself! Everybody was respectful towards the others, helped each other and tried to give their best. I love introducing friends and colleagues from different walks of life – it does not work out always, this time it did and it was magical!
Bongrong: How hard was it to direct so many people from different fields in a single performance?
Debleena: Directing even five people becomes tough if they are not responsible. But here all the twenty-six people of the cast and crew were so willing and responsible that I did not have to face much problem. Many of them are senior to me and I feel honoured that they agreed to work with me!
Bongrong: So you must have received some help and advice from them…
Debleena: Absolutely! There were people from the academic world like Ma’am (Ipshita Chanda, professor of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University who played the role of Ismat Chughtai in the play) who translated and transliterated the texts. Ma’am and Judhajit helped with the speech and diction. The text of Kafir, especially, had no Hindi version and without their help it would have been impossible to give it a shape. Everybody had honest and valuable inputs!
Bongrong: Why did you choose Ismat Chughtai’s stories for your play?
Debleena: As we say in the play, it’s because we love her works! I would add that her works are not yet explored by theatre makers of Kolkata (as far as I know); her stories were not well-known here till her birth centenary (in 2015). There have been seminars in Kokata based on Chughtai’s works lately, but nothing that would bring her stories outside academic circles. That was one of the reason why SOI wanted a play, rather than just discussions on Chughtai, and also the reason we were so happy to stage it!
Her language is so supple and alive, it just demands performance! Her characters challenge the regular markers of everyday life without making a great fuss over it – they even challenge the accepted ways of rebellion! This attracted me a lot. Apart from that, we felt that these two stories could well be placed in any part of India. There was scope for a pan-Indian appeal… You might have noticed that the choice of costumes (assorted by Debarotidi and Indranidi) incorporated different states –there were Bengali sarees, Gujrati sarees, lehenga, salwaar, dhoti and so on…
Bongrong: Both these stories celebrated the free spirit of love. Did you try to show that love wins over societal constraints through your acts?
Debleena: Choosing two love stories was a conscious decision – we all enjoy retelling love stories, especially ones that overcome difficulties and end happily! While Kafir concentrates on the two individuals in love, with the backdrop of communal barriers that the society posits, Gharwali is nuanced with the marked presence of the society in every decision that the couple takes.. In both the stories, individual spirit, sheer logic and love and… should I say… life… soars above the petty constraints. They (the lovers) do not wage war, they do not lecture, they do not read post-colonial or feminist theories, they simply do what they want to do, and that’s… that’s what is brilliant about Chughtai!
Bongrong: You have inserted a number of musical interludes which were obviously not there in Chughtai’s stories. Did it come spontaneously to your mind or were they difficult to include?
Debleena: Actually at first we were not sure what kind of music to use. Lajo and Mirza’s consummation scene had a comical and pictorial description in the story. Translating it to stage language was a challenge! I had the actions planned, but a funny song was in demand… Someone playfully suggested we could use the song ‘rukmani’ from the film Roja there and we grabbed the idea. Then we decided to stick to Bollywood songs because people connect to Bollywood so easily. Also, the humor of Chughtai’s stories went very well with this format. The music team lead by Sarbajit aka Baghbahadur had a brilliant collection of Bollywood songs for every conceivable situation and these wove into the play as if they were always meant to be!
Bongrong: A final question – what are your future plans with this new group?
Debleena: Honestly, we have not had any detailed discussion on this matter yet. Primarily, we never thought of forming a new group. Just because we people were very happy working together, we have given it a thought. We are interested in working in other Indian languages than Bengali. We have a number of texts in mind that we could possibly work with! Let’s see where these take us!
Bongrong: Thank you so much Debleena for finding time to talk with us. We are eagerly waiting for the next production of this new group of yours…