Bangla Natok (Bengali Drama) Review: Maru Behag's "Ghare Baire" at Tapan Theater feat. inmates of Alipore Correctional Home

Bangla Natok Ghare Baire by Maru Behag Kolkata

Kolkata April 11, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) Tapan Theater at south Kolkata has a long standing tradition of hosting popular plays. Despite the burgeoning impact of TV shows and multiplexes, the theater lovers of Kolkata have not lost their passion for watching stage performances.

Bangla Natok Ghare Baire by Maru Behag Kolkata

On 16th of March, 2012, the troupe Maru Behag performed a drama based on Rabindranath Tagore’s seminal novel ‘Ghare Baire’. The play, directed by Jolly Guharoy was performed by the inmates of the Alipore Correctional Home in Kolkata. It was once again heart-warming to see the prison inmates perform passionately on stage after their earlier performance at Tapan Theater, based on a dramatic rendition of Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Chokher Bali’. While a large number of police personnel kept close vigil in and around the theater premises, the performers were oblivious of their presence and were completely absorbed into their acts. And much like the earlier occasion, we amused ourselves, pondering about the rareness of the event.

Bangla Natok Ghare Baire by Maru Behag Kolkata

‘Ghare Baire’ is a novel written by Tagore in 1916 with the National Independence Movement of India serving as the backdrop. It is one of the more important works of Tagore set in early 20th century India. The novel narrates the story of Nikhil, an educated Bengali zamindar, Bimala, his wife, and Sandip, his revolutionary friend who is an active supporter of the Swadeshi Movement. The novel addresses several important issues such as ideas about nationalism, the conflicts between traditions and modernism and the role of women in Bengal and India during the time in which the novel is based. The dynamism between the central characters and their conflicting tendencies is also one of the interesting aspects of the novel. For instance Nikhil disapproves of the use of force to attain the country’s freedom while the patriotic Sandip believes it necessary to apply force in order to win freedom for his country. Bimala also gets caught up in this confusion and although she is unaware of the ‘outer’ world, she is incited by Sandip’s fervor and is drawn to him. Pushing aside age-old traditions she helps Sandip in his revolution. The novel ends on a tragic note and Bimala finds true love in her husband Nikhil, while Sandip flees the city. Apart from addressing social and nationalistic issues, the novel also illustrates the complexities in relationships. In the earlier part of the novel, Bimala is devoted to her husband and worships him. However, she is drawn to Sandip, seeing his passion for his ideals. However, she realizes her misstep in the end and is reunited with her husband.

Maru Behag, in their rendition of the Tagore novel, delivered a good performance. Under the direction of Jolly Guharoy, the performers seemed to have lost much of their inhibitions. Leaving aside a few glitches, the performance went on smoothly. The drama tried to retain the flavor of the original novel while the stage setup sought to reflect the sights and sounds of early 20th century Bengal. With such remarkable continued attempts by the troupe, we are hopeful to see on stage many more performances in the days to come.