Chaitanya Bimangal

Group: Nadiya Natya

Dramatist: Chandan Sen

Director: Koushik Chattopadhyay









Tikito ka Sangraha

Source: Karel Capek

Translator: Nirmal Verma

Actor: Dinkar Sharma



Two productions from outside Kolkata featured at Nandikar’s 39th Theatre Festival. Nadiya Natya’s Chaitanya Bimangal comes from the pen of senior playwright Chandan Sen, who has composed many biodramas of late. Here he offers an imaginary early life of Chaitanya as a youth, rather than the more common subject of the saint’s sublimation. Thus, though Chaitanya already displays exceptional knowledge of Hindu scriptures, he uses it as a tool to contest the irrational beliefs of orthodox Brahmins much to their consternation. His liberal bhakti draws the lower castes not just to become his followers but even to resist the powerful nexus of church and state. We see how he adopts the Hare Rama Hare Krishna chant to become a maha-mantra.

Sen depicts Chaitanya’s fascination for rural theatre and its appeal to the masses, which he reinvented as Jatra of direct spiritual ecstasy to propagate his priestless faith. This aspect could do with more extended treatment. And Sen gives prominence to Chaitanya’s love for his friend Lakshmipriya, followed by his devastation at her premature death. Only afterwards does he consent to marry Vishnupriya, the daughter of the royal pandit desirous of forging a matrimonial alliance. The play ends at a midlife point where one can expect a sequel from Sen, an Uttara Chaitanya Charitra.

Chaitanya Bimangal commands respect by virtue of director Koushik Chattopadhyay’s ability to organize forty members of various groups in Nadiya district into this proud homage to their local hero of Nabadwip. Coordinating their live singing and spontaneous dancing creates a rousing effect on stage. However, Chattopadhyay should try to replace the harmonium, a colonial instrument anachronistic for 16th-century history.


An open-air solo performance by Dinkar Sharma from Jharkhand, Tikito ka Sangraha, presented Karel Capek’s beautifully human short story, “The Stamp Collection”, in Nirmal Verma’s Hindi translation. Sharma does not so much enact as relate the text, about the old man who finds his long-lost collection that he had assumed his friend had stolen (and how that changed his personality), safely stowed away by his father. Children in the 21st century, who do not know the magic of letters received in the post, may revisit the time when many of us used to travel in our minds to all corners of the world evoked by the stamps on the envelopes, just as Capek’s narrator did: “like having a personal and intimate connection with all those foreign countries. … To seek and to find, that’s the greatest thrill, the greatest satisfaction life can offer. Everyone should search for something.”