Eknayoker Shesh Raat –Trivialization of context by much dependence on entertainment quotient

Posted by Kaahon Desk On June 29, 2019

Eknayoker Shesh Raat–the last night of a dictator, written and directed by Chandan Sen, is a production by Ha-Ja-Ba-Ra-La. A dictator is the hero of this play but not in its usual sense. Rather, he could be called the anti-hero. Though his gestures are similar to those of a hero, he is not as pure and serene like one. He is rather dark, complex and dusky like a real human being. (Actually, every human being is an anti-hero as well as a dictator.)

The play is set in a foreign land with a strong metaphorical plot. (Metaphorical: Showing something but indicating something else. For example, showing the thumb to mean “doesn’t matter to me” is a metaphor. One must watch the play to know what metaphor has been used here.) In the play, the dictator seems to have a smooth and clear cut picture of the government, democracy and the process of ruling a country. He comes across as a person who feels no guilt about his wrongdoings and is ready to compromise anything to be in power. He has placed himself above everything in his business and believes his methods of ruling to be the ultimate. The director criticizes the rulers of the nation (state?) who say that they believe in democracy but run a dictatorship.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

The protagonist of the play, the dictator commits all the deeds openly that today’s “dictators” do in disguise. Manipulating the national history, distorting the narrative of the minorities, promoting books with misleading history – all of this can be witnessed in this play. A major strength of this play lies in its directness. Some of the direct dialogues are: “The public feel no difficulty hearing idiotic comments anymore. They’ve become used to it…”, “Who will point out the flaws of the government if the ruling parties themselves defend the government?” and “Well, the intelligentsia never loses interest at any cost.” To maintain his superiority, the dictator commits a mass murder. He feels that no lawful opposition can defeat a dictator. The government that points out opposing parties as anti-nationals and defends itself like the apple of its eye is nothing but a hypocritical dictatorship in an autocratic situation.He announces in an affirmative voice that he is crude while others are refined and that he isn’t afraid to declare this because he has a superior position. From the beginning, the number of seats in the Loksabha, the effectiveness of the opposing party and the method to put the minorities to use are very clear to him. (Aren’t these clear to every ruler?) As it is already very evident, this play is quite fit and relevant with respect to today’s political context.

The writing style of the play is crisp and well-knit, as expected from veteran playwright Chandan Sen. But the language is too bookish, like an improper translation of a foreign play. Characters speak in such a language which isn’t used by people while speaking. The setting is in a foreign land but the acting style is absolutely like that in our Bengali culture. Couldn’t have the play been written in the communicative Bengali language? Most of the actors are weak in their parts but Debshankar Halder has single-handedly taken the play forward with his popular vocal and physical acting. Nowadays, it seems that that this burden on his shoulders is increasing. The audience expects a lot more from him. The use of music is confined mainly to a few famous English songs, like ‘Jamaica Farewell’ by Harry Belafonte and ‘This Time for Africa’ by Shakira. The set and lights have been used according to the sufficient needs of the play, which is why the content of the play has come out so well and clear. This production proves yet again the utmost importance of the content above all. Nothing else is needed if the message to be conveyed is clear and significant.

Eknayoker Shesh Raat –Trivialization of contextby much dependence on entertainment quotient

The play caters to the epoch and is a must-watch as well as a relevant production in today’s political scenario. But it’s not complete. As long as the play doesn’t speak about the people, about life, it remains incomplete. We’re aware of the situation of the country but what about the countrymen? How incorrigible have lives of the countrymen become under the rule of the dictator? How are the common people being harassed because of eccentricity, political revenge and maintaining the majority of the ruling parties? How are their rights being violated? How is their existence in risk? The play doesn’t answer these questions. What must the common people do to overthrow this not-so-democratic power? No answers, yet again. Thus, this play touches a chord but only as entertainment. Yet the concept is filled with terror, similar to a horror story. It had the power to touch the hearts of the spectators. In the end, the spectators make fun of their own situation and get entertained by the criticism of political parties but the terrible picture of our current scenario doesn’t get a place in their minds. They fail to realize the intensity of the damage being caused by the dictators to the different generations. They fail to see how dangerous it has become for us to live peacefully. The audience, ultimately, fails to realize that what is entertaining them is actually a dagger hanging above their heads or an atom bomb beneath their feet waiting to burst. The play should have taken up this bit of responsibility towards the society.


Ebong Ipsita
A Kolkata based theatre practitioner, she has been doing theatre from 2005 and now she is co-directing and adapting plays for different theatre groups in Bengal. She believes to explore the web medium as well to express herself to the world.

Translation: Kankabati Banerjee

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