FRIDAY REVIEW

Missive beyond the mortal

Tagore's touch A scene from “Dakghar”.

Tagore's touch A scene from “Dakghar”.  

Theatre Rang Saptak's “Dakghar” was marked by a poetic cadence. DIWAN SINGH BAJELI

“D akghar” by Rabindranath Tagore, ‘a myriad-minded poet,' is an immortal work of art with multiple layers of meaning and philosophical tones. It personifies Tagore's art, which reveals the universal within the particular. During the last two decades several productions of this play have been seen in Delhi. Different directors sought to reinterpret the play in different ways, trying to fathom its philosophical depth. The latest one in Prafullchandra Jha Mukt's Hindi translation was presented by Rang Saptak at Muktadhara, a small but beautifully designed auditorium. The production, directed by Surendra Sharma, known for staging significant Hindi novels and poems, is remarkable for its unpretentiousness, poetic cadence, rich imagery that touches an emotional chord in the audience.

His staging of Prem Chand's Rang Bhoomi was widely acclaimed and has had 34 shows in different cities of the country.

Sharma's “Dakghar” opens on a serious note, projecting vividly the village panorama of Bengal through the eyes of Amal, a sick boy, confined to his room by his physician, only allowed to watch the outside world from the open window of his room. The people who stop before his window and with whom he talks, winning their hearts, include a curds hawker, a compassionate faqir, a young girl full of life, a village watchman and a malicious village head.

While in conversation with them he reveals his zest for life, a fertile imagination to describe the enchanting view of rivers, meadows, fields and mountains. A village postman is his ideal because he goes from place to place across the fields and forests. (In the good old days villagers respected the postman. Legend has it that bandits and wild animals never harmed him). He is told that the king is opening a post office in the village and he would be sending a letter to him soon. He becomes ecstatic, forgetting his captivity and his disease.

The production unfolds the sick boy, his innocence, his charming personality and his intense longing for freedom in a rhythmic manner. The use of offstage music imparts poetic imagery, reinforcing the philosophic undertones of the play, apart from creating the right ambience and emotional colour. The poem by Purna Dass Baul about the urge of the human soul to free itself from the world of bondage and Paban Dass Baul's lullaby enrich the production and are woven into the basic structure of the narrative.

Sudhir Rana as Amal, the sick boy, imparts subtle touches to the portrayal, bringing to the fore the complex emotional world of his character.

He wins the hearts of the audience who sympathise with him. His scenes with Faqir sensitively played by Lalit Joshi are deeply touching. Virendra Kaushik as the malicious village head metamorphosed into a benign character is impressive. Ishwar as a kind-hearted hawker, N.K. Pant as a royal physician and Sharan Makkar as the worried foster father of Amal act admirably.

Rang Saptak, formed in 2002, boasts some of the finest actors of Delhi's amateur stage in its roster.

Data on Dakghar Written in 1911 World premiere in English translation in London in 1913 in the presence of Tagore. Original Bengali version presented in Kolkata in 1917. According to Martin Kaempchen: “The Post-office (Dakghar) was produced in 28 German theatres with a total of 105 performances. This made it the most popular Tagore play in Germany. The poet himself went to see a Post-Office production in Berlin in 1921.” Memorable productions Anamika Haksar directed it for SRC Theatre Repertory, 1989. Symbolised the “restlessness of the soul” against the backdrop of “delineation of the delicate fabric of human relationships, the warp and weft that twines one human being to another …” Heisnam Kanhailal produced an experimental work remarkable for the transformation of verbal into non-verbal. Wolfram Mehring, a German director, presented it in the original Bengali at Max Muller Bhavan, “emphasising the existential relevance of the play.” A part of Bharat Rang Mahotsav – 2009, it was a multi-language theatrical piece.

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