Nasika Puran – A directionless drama under government patronage

Posted by Kaahon Desk On February 28, 2019

Nasika Puran – the new drama of Minerva Repertory with a bunch of new actors. It is a burning example of how dedication, practice and focus can have positive effect on an actor’s work. Not just the leads but every actor has moulded himself, both voice-wise and physique-wise. Throughout the whole drama they have established that theatre is a living medium and what audience get from theatre is very unique to it.

But theatre is a composite art. Apart from having actors per excellence, theatre needs the perfect harmony of many other elements to render it as a effective theatre. And precisely this is where ‘Nasika Puran’ manages to raise a few eyebrows.

The play is the bengalisation of famous French playwright Edmond Rostand’s Nineteenth-century drama named ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’. Dramatist Ashok Mukhopadhyay has plucked the play out of Paris to set it in Seventeenth-Century Gaur Bengal. He has tried to draw a parallel with the main play by creating an atmosphere of war and political instability

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

But the end result is totally different. The costume, the lightings of a lampshade, the relentless assault of laser light, the use of language, the language of conduct, the letter was written on paper and the needless use of projector have rendered it directionless. The usage of words and language have been prudently avoided while keeping in mind the evolution and incomprehensibility of language. But the lack of research is evident when we come to think about the Seventeenth century’s apparels, their materials, the use of colour, the structure of windows and doorways, whether papers were used to write and whether bangles and vermillion were used or not.

The play is a nice little love story where the central conflict is the struggle between beauty and virtue in love. The heroine of the play, Ranjabati, is enamoured by the physical beauty of valorous Kanakverma. The hero Shashadhar is ugly by the conventional standard. He has a huge nose but his poetic prowess is flawless. Ranjabati is wanted by both beautiful Kanakverma and ugly Shashadhar. But whom does Ranjabati want? She wants best of the both worlds: both outward beauty and love’s poetic fervour. Even before Shashadhar manages to propose to Ranjabati, she confides in him her love for Kanakverma and even bestows the duty of protecting Kanakverma on him. Shashadhar uses his poetic brilliance to write letters to Ranjabati under the guise of Kanakverma and Ranjabati believes them to be written by her beautiful Kanak. Even though Kanakverma protests initially against such deception he quickly realises that in order to impress Ranjabati one must showcase poetic sensibilities. So this complete package of the dual quest for love continues until Kanakverma dies in war. After the death of Kanakverma, Shashadhar loses the beautiful carrier of his love poems while Ranjabati starts to lead a stoic life after the loss of both Kanakverma and Shashadhar under Kanak’s signature. Ranjabati in her whole life never understands the truth behind her love, maybe because she was so content with the complete package that she never felt the need to know. Finally, when Shashadhar before his death spells out the secret, Ranjabati forgets to lament over her estrangement with Kanak and instead she mourns over Shashadhar.

Did Ranjabati only love the poet in Kanakverma? Didn’t she love the human behind the poet? Was her attraction towards beauty, just a momentary need? These are some questions we can’t know the answers of. Because if this need is just momentary, virtue has already won the battle and the central conflict in the play is not founded properly. Otherwise when in a symbolic act at the end Ranjabati places the groom’s garland between the two on Shashadhar’s shoulder and proclaims him as the winner in love, we start to question the integrity of her love. How can she make Shashadhar the winner in love while ignoring her fifteen years of lamentation over the estrangement between her and Kanakverma? In reality, this emotional shift of Ranjabati is so abrupt that it ends up as a jerk for the audience.

The characters in the play are great as actors but director Biplab Bandyopadhyay and dramatist Ashok Mukhopadhyay couldn’t instill dimensionality in them. The scope to create great characters were already there, especially in their positions under a political milieu and their mentality against each other. The play is unbearably long and the frequent dances at the beginning were really irritating. The capital is abundant and the unnecessary use of capital especially through inconsequential projector and animation is glaringly visible. But the sincere performances of the actors overshadow the flaws.

At the end, it must be said that Minerva is government institution. The lack of capital and inadequate compensation for actors and technicians in Bengali dramas are not present in Minerva. So they have the comfort of money and the luxury of being solely engrossed in their work. Keeping these in mind, we expect more relevant and better quality of work from them.

P.S. Earth’s satellite is moon; love’s satellite is also moon. Love naturally revolves around its needs. But moon can’t rotate on its axis. The moon is still and it’s revolving around the Earth, the Sun’s rays light one side of the moon and that side curiously clicks a selfie and sends that to us. If you are feeling curious as to know why we are saying these, watch the play till the end.


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: Biplab Mazumder

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