Theatre

All India Bengali Short Drama Competition: Reliving history

STRONG SYMBOL A scene from “Biranganer Bayan”

STRONG SYMBOL A scene from “Biranganer Bayan”   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

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“Biranganer Bayan”, staged at the 11th All India Bengali Short Drama Competition, espouses the cause of women caught in war

Plays with a universal theme appeal to audience irrespective of the country. Conforming to this is “Biranganer Bayan” staged recently at the recently concluded 11th All India Bengali Short Drama Competition by Bangladesh’s Shobdo Nattaya Charcha Kendro.

Directed by Debashish Ghosh, it features only one actor Rowshan Jannat Rushni, who is the playwright too. It revolves around the true story of Halima Begum, a freedom fighter (biranganer), who was raped during attack by the West Pakistan Army and Razakars in 1971. Starting from her, Rowshan goes on to weave other stories of atrocities against women and children. Happy with its appreciation, Rowshan feels, “Subjugation of women is contextual and people are concerned about it everywhere. It happened in the past and continues as is evident in Iraq and Myanmar.”

Genesis of the story

The story came into being in 2013 when there was a mass movement, Gonojagoron Moncho, against a judgement awarding life imprisonment to a war criminal instead of death. “This led many theatre practitioners to write and stage plays on the subject. I was given the responsibility to write one. Starting with the disadvantage of lack of material on the issue, I read whatever books, articles and interviews were available and wrote a 25-minute play on Halima.” This became a one-hour show as other women came forward to share their stories with Rowshan on watching the play. “These tales I wove in the play and present them through Halima.”

Playing many characters, Rowshan does justice to each by reflecting their feelings through fine emoting and dialogue delivery. These include men, women, children, Mukti Bahini volunteers, armed forces personnel, and common folks. “Thanks to the director and practice I was able to modulate the voice to suit each character. Further, I worked on facial expressions and body language to convey the right kind of emotions.” What is remarkable is her use of a dupatta effectively to portray fire or arms. The play culimnates with Rowshan beckoning a person from the audience to handover a flag. “It is a symbolic act of passing on the responsibility for the struggle of gender equality to the next generation,” she explains.

The lighting used is simple and brings out effectively the sense of day and night. Further recorded sound of firing and bomb blasts and songs is played to create the ambience. This is complemented by the digital banner in the background showing Mujibur Rahman and Bangladesh war scenes.

With the subject being close to her, Rowshan hopes that the play will ensure that war criminals are tried and punished and youngsters realise the sacrifices people have made for their independence. “Last but not the least is my sincere hope that all the biranganers are recognised and rewarded . In 2016, 40 of them were identified and helped but there are still many more.”

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 4:44:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/reliving-history/article22762944.ece

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