It was again an inward journey for all the audiences who had assembled to watch “Karubashona”. Courtesy to Arpita Ghosh who had directed and scripted the much acclaimed work of Jibanananda Das’s novel “Karubashona”. The novel cannot be labeled as an autobiography of the poet but the protagonist Hem’s material life and his philosophical self is not much different from Jibanananda Das’s life and philosophy.
Hem is the son of a schoolteacher, but even after being a father of a daughter could not earn either recognition or minimum wage to take his family’s responsibilities. In this play, Hem’s character is been split into two and is been acted out by two renowned actors of Bengali theater, Sujan Mukhopadhyay and Anirban Bhattacharya left the audiences speechless for a while even after the play ended. Any creator who is inflicted with the desire to create and find out “Truth of life” through his/her creation is bound to travel through psychological and philosophical turmoil. The path towards enlightenment cannot be full of roses and this pain is aggravated when his/her attention, dedication, surrender towards this metaphysics brings in material losses. This dualism was explicitly sketched out through performance by the two actors, though they interchanged their roles of playing the inner self of a poet.
Debesh Chattopadhyay’s Scenography worth special praise as he brought out the abstraction on stage representing the crisis that Bengal faced in the time of Jibanananda Das was writing. The mise-en scene included movable blocks painted in grey and black color tone, with scribbling often added or removed by actors could represent this grey area of struggle of a poet with his content and form. Audience’s attention was attracted to a large sphere hanging from the down stage mid, replicating the perception of the world to be an emblematic of some spiritual fact. The zonal, over all dark light design added to the ambience, which referred to a historical time period of Bengal’s poetic discourse.
Though some comments can be addressed to the production design if they are not criticisms per se. Jibanananda Das was struggling with a new form that would carry a new content in the post Tagore era of Bengali literary scenario. “Truth” is not always beautiful divinity and spirituality. The everyday mundane, busy, heartless city life, struggles for existence, fakeness of human relationships should also be a path to achieve “Truth” through poetry. In order to achieve this, Jibanananda Das used to roam around the streets of Kolkata and listened to the kaleidoscopic manifestation of life in the city and tried to map the eternal. The play’s protagonist ‘Hem’ did the same. This character of a city that is very much responsible in forming the psyche of “Hem” was found to be missing in the play. The script focused more on the pain for being a financially failed person. The production design including the light, set, human props never gave life to this ‘city’ that formed a character in itself and framing the character of “Hem”. It is because Hem became a flâneur, he could cry for ever increasing emotional distances between relationship and material utility creeping in. Hence, the element of a “City life” which even could be the reference for the audiences of a time frame should have been incorporated in the production design. Dialogue was not enough to represent that time period as a character like “Hem” is difficult to find out in a digital world as of now.
The rich text evades all small pockets of lack of communication in the theatrical design. The lyrical journey through an audiovisual medium as Karubashona promises is worth alluring.