Yājnaseni Agnikanyā

Group: Shishikshu

Director: Bijaylakshmi Barman

Dramatist: Rudraprasad Chakrabarti


Rebati, Eibati, Sebati

Group: Natya Chetana

Director: Sujata Priyambada

Dramatization: Subodh Patnaik

Source: Fakir Mohan Senapati



Group: Sabar Path

Director: Sanjita

Dramatist: Ujjwal Chattopadhyay


Solo actress-directors took the stage in half of the new productions at Nandipat’s Narir Mancha festival, spotlighting the tribulations of women from classical to contemporary times.


Draupadi’s woes have supplied the material for so much drama that any revisitation must bear comparison with such achievements as Saoli Mitra’s Nāthabati Anāthabat. Shishikshu’s Yājnaseni Agnikanyā, based on Rudraprasad Chakrabarti’s text, stars Bijaylakshmi Barman, who had herself participated in Nāthabati. She enacts intensely an older Draupadi on the eve of the Mahāprasthān, reminiscing about her life, but the conventional script constricts her. It gives us the familiar emphasis on Draupadi’s physical beauty and the injustices she faced, and follows everyone in unfairly leaving poor Nakul and Sahadev in the shadows. Even Yudhishthir’s cruel judgment when she collapses and dies – he tells Bhim that she fell because of her partiality to Arjun – does not receive the extended critique one expected, given that the play is set at the very end.


Natya Chetana from Bhubaneswar presented Rebati, Eibati, Sebati in Odia, Subodh Patnaik’s take on Fakir Mohan Senapati’s pioneering 1898 short story, Rebati, updated with a modern girl named Sebati. Her grandmother tells her to obey social custom and not to study, but she gets support from her teacher, perseveres and excels. Hopefully female education has become the norm now, rendering the famous tale irrelevant. Sujata Priyambada’s versatility stands out, as she injects all the characters with distinctive traits of their own.


A young local group, Sabar Path, staged Ujjwal Chattopadhyay’s Trinayan, a parable of power against love. A forest girl inspires a sculptor to become his model for the idol of a goddess, for which the king has declared an award. In the temple she captivates everyone – which the king then perceives as a threat to his reign. I read Trinayan as symbolic of rulers institutionalizing religion as well as exploiting and ravaging the creative force of nature, both continuing to happen around us. Sanjita exhibits the primal energy of shakti, supplemented artistically with minimal resources by Sandip Suman Bhattacharya’s set design and Bablu Sarkar’s lighting.


In all three productions, though, one felt the need of an objective external directorial eye to shape and sharpen the performances to perfection.


(From The Times of India, 5 April 2019)