Friday, August 13, 2010

Neel Chaudhuri's Re imagination of Satyajit Ray

As i procceded towards my known destination with confidence i looked like a cat that had just polished off a jar of cream.The fact of the matter being that i had done my home work well before setting out to see a play by none other than the Master of cinema himself.The mere mention of Satyajit Ray evokes in me an enormous sense of awe coupled with immense respect as regarding his works i wouldn't say i know it all but am familiar with and have an honest admiration for most of his works.
So since it was known to me that 'Taramandal' the 3rd day's play at the festival was based on Satyajit Ray's 'Potol Babu, Film Star' the first thing i did was to search my best source for the original play, the Internet.And boy was i glad to get the story as i would have wanted it to be...that is not in the form of a play but an easy re-readable story.i would like to bring it here as he would've written it so that my blog is not a poor repetition of the Master's artistic work.
That was my homework done with utmost diligence and i thought i knew substantially well to feel confident.
But i was wrong. At the time after the end of the play when the announcement was made to meet the director up and personal i scooted out of sheer panic.The kind that grips you when you realise that the homework felt short of many nuances and that what you knew was just the story. i did pause to see how Mr Neel Chaudhuri looked like and unable to face him due to my ignorance about his works i did what i thought was best...i hurriedly ran out of the theatre.
Sitting in the car my focus was still on the Director, Mr Neel Chaudhuri. Maybe it's takes art to be intellectually portrayed in an original form when one is re-imagining the work of a master. That his direction would be responsible for Taramandal winning The Metroplus Playwright Award 2010 would not be an exaggeration. What was unique about reimagining Ray in Neel Chauduri's way ? The news media has reported aptly,
"The play constructs parallel narrative that set up and mirror Potol Babu's story in younger versions of himself or people just like him."And since i fell short of words like this i second the reporting.Needless to say then that i was sure surprised as well as impressed with a play in this form which in an explorative style dealt with a very real subject - HUMAN AMBITION.
                                                                    Neel Chaudhuri
So coming back home after relaxing a bit and still disturbed about what i needed to know i searched the net again. But this time it was that young intellectual i was looking for.Maybe next time i will not panic and would like to see him closely as he talked to the other connoisseurs.
So what i got first hand was this which educated me not only about him but also the rest in the genre of having won this award previously.
What impressed me about his direction was how he was able to retain the pathos of Ray's protagonist to include more characters from the same story and intertwine it to present it as a fantastic bouquet.
In between the play the monologue by Abhishek Majumdar kept the audience in splits and thanks to my curious nature i know that he was the first one to win this award.

Coming to the play i must agree that i was touched by Potol Babu's story mainly because it could be anybody's story including me.How we nuture dreams even when leading our not so interesting day to day life.When we get slightly close to achieving those dreams even if it is not of the magnitude in which we have dreamt it yet amongst us how many will have the free spirit to grab it with honesty?
It was touching to see the fifty plus protagonist get into the character when after asking for a cup of ginger tea he sits in silence in a dark room listening to the music he had just bought along with the daily sundry items he was supposed to get from the bazaar. The character he was to act in the film listened to Mozart in the dark he was told on his enquiry about the character.
And then to see the same enthusiastic Potol Babu get a script which did not even have a single word instead just an exclamation, OH.
As the awarded director experimented with the sequencing not letting it remain Potol Babu's entirely but also exploring the ambitions of others in day to day life it was equally heart rending to see how hopes are dashed and in reality we succumb to what ever is coming our way.Like this aspiring model who puts her baby to sleep and rushes to the studio for her shoot only to be told by the new but very arrogantly sure photographer that her face will not be shot for the phone which she endorses.Instead gave rude instructions to the make-up assistant to do her hands.The model disappointed and in between begging her husband over the phone to rush home as she could be delayed, finally gives in to the rude shock that is inching her away from her aspirations.

When i read Potol Babu's story i was only thinking about him but after seeing the play my thoughts were for everybody shown in the play.Even if it is a successful doctor invited to give a lecture.Because now i know.
i just saw as a third party a reflection. Not only in the form of excellent delivery of an honest monologue about how parents doctor the success of their child making sure that the child should live not his own dream but their dream but also in the parts played by the rest.When performed so wonderully delivered with quirky humour to keep us in splits it is refreshing to laugh out aloud but in reality when you think about it you can sense the '' sadness that has a lightness'' to it that is when you get to see it as a third party viewing a common drama that is life.
The story of Shitolokanto Ray aka Potol Babu is reflected in various hues throughout the play.Ambitions struggled for and later settled for due to various reasons.Sometimes pressures from family, or else subdued at work place and most commonly for the needed break.Just one chance to prove.
Even if that chance means just saying OH for a dialogue after dashing against the main actor accidently for action.

Getting a good experience of The Tadpole Repertory (New Delhi)  proved in every what Neel Chaudhuri wants from people like us," ...compel people to return to the theatre expecting something new, strange and unusual, stimulating them beyond the confines of television and the LCD..."
 There are so many people who agree with me and are equally impressed but have better words to express. So lets hear them out.

Image courtesy: The Internet.


  1. thank u for letting me know about neel chaudhary.these artistic people r taking gr8 effot to wake us up.u r lucky to b a part of it,

  2. @Gauri thank you and i feel glad that you understand my being fortunate on getting to know such creative and artistic personalities.
    Wish you were there to share all these experiences with me.

  3. First time here, and I must say your topics are quite interesting, will come back to read more for sure.

  4. @aayan thank you...please feel free to walk in whenever you can.Good to see you first time and hope to see more of you. :)