December 21, 2003


Recently I watched the play "Raktakarabi" (The red oleander) written by Rabindranath Tagore & performed by the theater group "Nagarik". It is a symbolical play aimed at the vices of capitalism and totalitarianism and rekindling the personal spirit. However the poet terms the play realistic and says:

There was a time when, in the human world, most of our important dealings with our fellow-beings were personal dealings, and the professional element in society was never hugely disproportionate to the normal constitution of its life.

...Today another factor has made itself immensely evident in shaping and guiding human destiny. It is the spirit of organization, which is not social in character, but utilitarian...

... But the personal man is not dead, only dominated by the organized man. The world has become the world of Jack and Giant the Giant who is not a gigantic man, but a multitude of men turned into a gigantic system.

Yes, and the play show how the system suppresses the personal man. In an imagined land full of gold mines the King rules with his Army, the Sarders. The inhabitants are simply known to the ruler as numbers instead of names. Just like exploiting the workers of modern day Tea-garden workers, they are encouraged to forget their pain by taking alcohol and they are threatened not to say something against those Sarders or the King. Then came Nandini, a symbol of free and glorious human spirit wearing Raktakarabi (The red orleander flower). She affects Ranjan, Bishu and others with her elegance, beauty and naive thoughts. She has no fear. She can tackle the Sarders and most importantly goes to the den of the King (who hides himself to be deemed by others as a fearsome being) asking him lot of questions that the King himself cannot answer. He also becomes affected by Nandini's logics as she finds himself as a mere human. The Sarders try to suppress the revolution against the King by killing Ranjan and punishing others. But then the strangest thing happens; the King comes out with Nandini and others and destroys the system created by him.

Truly the play focuses the strength of the eternal human spirit against the backdrop of the dark cruelty of monstrous organizations and administrations that have lost their souls. How ironic compared to the modern day rift between the government decisions and general citizens in a democratic outset.

Here is the review of the play. Aupi Karim (her biography) portrayed Nandini elegantly and proved that she is a very spirited young actor. Among others Khaled Khan was outstanding in the role of Bishu.


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