Minerva Repertory’s ‘Jaysa ka Taysa’ – a tranquil warmth from the stage

Posted by Kaahon Desk On March 1, 2018

If we were to ponder about it, we will see that we come to remember in entirety very few of the plays that we watch. The rest very naturally passes into the sea of oblivion, as it happens with most of our quotidian seeing, hearing and reading. Most present-day plays are incapable of furnishing a sense of long-lasting completeness but only a few remarkable theatrical moments. It is not that such moments are nugatory- feelings, attachments, and affinities are after all transitory! But if after watching a play once, one doesn’t feel like feeling watching it again, if the natyarasa is not transmitted, then where can one find artistic pleasure? What will remain is a mind haunted by dissatisfaction. After a long while, Minerva Repertory’s production ‘Jaysa ka Taysa’, directed by Sumanta Roy, has been able to provide memorable pleasure that will last in one’s mind.When all the violins, all the flutes in a music concert merge in their melodies, symphony is created and the audience can feel the quiver.  In theatre too when lights, music, and actors come together to produce the same tune, the audience can also become the part of that tune and a warm relationship between those blackheads and the lighted stage can be forged.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

In the 19th century Bengal, Girish Ghosh wrote ‘Jaysa ka Taysa’, adopting 17th-century French dramatist Moliere’s play ‘L’ Amour Medecin’. Ratanmala, a young girl having attained puberty longs to be with her partner, but her somewhat maniacal father Haradhan has determined not to give her away in marriage. He banishes from his house people who dare to come to ask for her daughter’s hand. Mean while her chambermaids draw upshrewd plans and intriguesto clear the way for Ratanmala to marry her lover Rasikmohan. This comedy throws light on issues of the institution of marriage, on social structure and on expression of sexuality, which can be said a way forward introspection from the 19th century Kolkata. In the 21st century too this play is pertinent, thought provoking and, at the same time, beguiling.

The play satirically questions a host of societal norms and practices. For example, the father is quite satisfied to provide his daughter with all material things like money, jewelry, a flower garden and to educate her in studies, music, and needlecraft. But he is completely unaware of the fact that at the end of the day people crave for love and not just mundane materialistic objects.According to him, the desire of his daughter is useless and he imposes an embargo on her marriage. One remarkable feature of Girish Ghosh’s play is that it never tries to suppress female’s sexuality, be it Ratanmala’s passion or Garab’s (Ratanmala’s chambermaid) escapades. Their free dances, their palpable steps, their rhythms speak about their sexuality. Marriage proposals continue to come…mean while jeweler, essence seller, jacket seller arrive to sell their respective swadeshi products. Those products are in reality from France, Germany or Hamilton, peddled under the veil of the brand of swadeshi. The play brazenly mocks the major aberrations that had come about in the swadeshi movement in Calcutta of that era. The substance of the comedy is very much political. The role of doctors is extremely satirical – when we all know that there is actually no disease,all the doctors still continue to invent various kind of precarious diseases. The theatrical moment which is created through the conversation between an Allopath and a Homeopath will sustain in our minds for long.

Performance is a matter of cardinal importance in a performance art irrespective of the text or the script. Though the tone of the acting was loud from the very beginning, but its subtlety, keenness, and equity throughout the performance gives it an unparalleled dimension. The play deliberately employs both actings and overacting, maybe for the sake of the script or for the sake of representing an ambiance of laughter and fun. The actors are all very much confident about their overacting, and their conviction about the character’s representation adjoins the audience with them.  Not only the individual performance, but the interaction and space sharing among the actors demand a high approbation. Though the character of Haradhan is very loud, he restrains this loudness in the sections where he is amidst the chambermaids’ who are even louder. A tranquil equity sustains – we continue receiving warmth from the stage.

Director Sumanta Roy introduces few characters in his play who were not there in Girish Ghosh’s script. This reception and its application help us to witness very interesting theatrical moments. In Girish Ghosh’s script there was no stage appearance of Ratanmala’s dead mother who only hovered in the dialogues and memories of the other characters. But Sumanta Roy brings her on the stage in an impeccable way. Ratanmala’s departed mother speaks and delivers her expressions from behind a garland-decked wooden frame upstage. Inspite of her death, she is concerned about her daughter and the family, something projected through her various expressions, short dialogues and actions. Another salient reception is the introduction of three chambermaids(Garab, Elokeshi, Kamali) in lieu of just one (Garab). Their laughter, their wit, their way of cracking jokes, their dances, footsteps and their fruitful presence enlighten the stage. The sequence where Ratanmala is eagerly waiting for her lover and the chambermaids are planning for their engagement.The scene amalgamates with the scenario of ancient Radha-Krishna folklores.

No excessive grandeur is used to depict 19th century Calcutta. The lamppost that stands the road speaks for the immemorial time. The yellow vapour lamp makes the lovers’ first love encounter sensational. The zamindari tradition, accurate costume designing, and the swadeshi product selling section reflect the 19th century Kolkata. Palash Das and Sumanta Roy’s music and Debraj Bhattacharya’s light are all worth remembering. Conglomeration of the light and live music changes the atmosphere from the mundane indoors to the marriage ceremony in the blinking of an eye. Live music plays a significant role in changing the theatrical climate a number of times.

It is very upsetting that this production takes place in the presence of a small audience. Ignoring this fact, the production should run for many more days.  The performances of the individuals and the production in general mirror the professional aspects of the repertory’s workshops. These workshops must go on, this play should go on because they hold that the play has on us is not transitory but perennial.

Labanya Dey
I am an ardent learner in the field of literature, performing arts, films and want to explore the world in different ways. I am studying comparative literature in Jadavpur University. But sometimes I like to flee away from this earth to observe it from a different planet.

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