Dakhalnama – When religion is the business, a bold theatre production

Posted by Kaahon Desk On June 25, 2019

Some selfish people have taken it upon themselves to convert religion into a business using common people’s sentiments and religiosity as capital to supply for their greed and infinite desires, though we are not unaware of that. This business of religion has reached a corporate status today. Fake and dishonest spiritual leaders are increasing in number, and time and again their dishonesty is being exposed to the public, but still they are entering to the familiar traps again and again. On the other hand, this fraudulent business is increasing exponentially. But what is the reason behind this exponential growth? Which intentional politics and conspiracy is fueling this?  How did the simple minded god-fearing public lose their footing? Shyambazar Natyacharcha Kenda’s Dakhalnama ventures this play to find it out.

This play was presented for the 14th time on Tapan Theatre on 5th March. One or two more shows have been performed after that for sure. The play is written by Soumen Pal, and directed by Samaresh Basu.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

How Soumen Basu has constructed a play of this particular flavour under the current circumstances, indicating towards certain people and organisations demonstrates a brave undertaking. The story very naturally reaches its climax, and the fluency with which it has been constructed attracts the audience. Every character, and their dialogues are well thought of, and he doesn’t entertain any unnecessary characters and dialogues. As a result, the play has become well-toned, and communicates the main points to the audience clearly. Every character is self-dependent and credible.

The protagonist Krishnalochon is an honest and disciplines idealist. His only possession is a piece of land attached to a temple. He spends his days in poverty. But he is undisturbed by greed. The grapevines say once Shri Chaitanya graced this land with his presence. Using that fact as a cue a group of religious businessmen (Emoskon, Shrijib Gosai) offer to buy his land with five to ten times the market rate. Brojokishore disguised as a religious pupil offers to promote Krishnalochon as Chatanyadeb’s next incarnation to increase his followers, dangling in front of him the prospect of huge income. But Krishnalochon doesn’t want any of that. Unable to find a way Brojokishore extends the offer to his wife Chandrabati and son Shyamlochon, they form an agreement with him in exchange they are promised a huge chunk of money. Krishnalochon does not intend to surrender and seeks help from the law and order. Brojokishore conspires his death, and forces Shyamlochon to kill his father with his own hands. After that Shyamlochon realizes what he’s done for money, and takes to lamentation, unable to reconcile with his decision to patricide. The play ends at this miserable state of affairs.

How Samaresh Basu has presented this important topic with simplicity and firmness in front of the audience calls for special admiration. The ambiences created on the stage transmits its religious indications instantly, the audience is welcomed with sandalwood tika and mongoose grains, religious songs go on in the background, mixed with the smell of incense a sense of devotion is conjured up. An acute sense of planning is prevalent in the director’s scenic sense and composition. The fluid movement gives rise to some beautiful moments and creates a contrast.

The unity among the group adds a different dimension to the play. Each character has an important role to play, therefore an overall quality control in necessary for the play. Each character has been expressed impressively with proper pronunciation, movement, expression, and modulation. Shyamasish Lahiri in the role of Krishnalochon has been able to express the honesty and idealistic firmness of his character. His devotional songs are beautiful and fluent. The character of Chandrabati (Krishnalochon’s wife) is inflicted with the dilemma, dealing with the poverty of the household, which has been adequately presented in Jogmaya Basu’s pronunciation and movement, although her efforts have not always yielded the desired result. Her acting is prone to uneasiness and not always natural, and often feels a bit forced. Nilabha Chattopadhyay in the role of Adhir seems natural, like the rest of his works. Prasenjit Bardhan in the role of the antagonist Brojokishore is brilliant, the former member of Minerva Repertory is well known among the Bengali theatre audience for his versatile talent, which has been prevalent in many other plays. He is no doubt one of the strong contemporary actors of this time.

দখলনামা –ধর্মীয় ব্যবসা যখন নাটকের বিষয়, একটি সাহসী প্রযোজনা

Background and music (Kankan Bhattacharya) has enriched the production. Many vocals have been used, solo and chorus, which never seem unnecessary. The music has been beautifully diluted in the production. It requires special talent to amalgamate music according to the need of the play like that. The lighting (Soumen Chakraborty) has retained the mood and given rise to beautiful moments to aid the production.

Stage decoration by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya is minimal, presenting a sense of reality with the use of minimum elements. Absence of any particular idol or temple helps to distribute the sense of religion, without confining it to a particular boundary. Jogmaya Basu’s costumes present traces of thoughtfulness. The characters seem very credible in their plain, mundane attires.

It’s not only the few selfish organisations that are using religion to satisfy their presumably unsatisfying needs, the real reason for concern is that the state power is also inclined to blur the lines between religion and politics by religiousizing politics, and politicizing religion to create a fissure among the public. And we are still living in a bizarre silence knowing full well what is happening. Shyambazar Natyacharcha Kenda’s play Dakhalnama invites us to break this silence. In the end we salute the playwright, director, and the whole group to present us with a production like this.

Pradip Datta
A post-graduation diploma holder of the Department of Media Studies, University of Calcutta, he has been a theatre activist in Bengal for the last twenty five years. He is a freelance journalist by profession. Besides theatre, his passion includes recitation, audio plays and many more.

Translation: Harit Chowdhury



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