Pather Panchali, Bhibhutibhusan Bandhopadhyay’s novel written 88 years ago and immortalised by Satyajit Ray in his film of the same name, reflects the essence of the author’s vision of life. It is the song of the road, which is the song of life that is in constant flux. Ray’s film made in mid-1950’s, is considered one of the most important films in the annals of motion pictures.
The essence of the novel was very much visible in a recent stage production based on the novel. Dramatized by Biswajit Sinha and Soma Sinha, the play was staged by Nabapally Natya Sangstha at Bipin Chandra Pal Auditorium on 5 November.
Pather Panchali’s story line, which dwells on various events in the life of a Bengali family in Nischindipur, a fictitious remote village somewhere in South 24 Paraganas, Bengal, was well-organised into a single drama. The play was well-conceived, designed, adapted and produced solely in the authentic language, or idiom of theatre.
The stagecraft, lighting, music, costume and make-up took the audience to a bygone era as the play captured various shades and nuances of India’s rustic life ~ innocence, hunger, angst and rancor, beauty and melody.
The two-hour-long play focuses chiefly on Harihar Ray, an impractical priest, who earns a precarious living, his wife Sarbajaya’s grim struggle with poverty and harsh realities of life, his widowed relative Indir thakurun; how his daughter Durga and son Apu, wholly untouched by the horror of poverty, are able to roam freely in the roads and woods, glimpsing their first train, getting drenched in the rain, wiping out all the disappointments and deprivations heaped upon them. The play ends with the sad and pathetic demise of Durga.
In terms of acting, Palash Das, a very popular and versatile actor of Bengali theatre in Delhi, portrayed the character role of Harihar exceptionally well. Soma Sinha, another known face of Delhi’s Bengali theatre, did well with her power of acting as she slipped into the role of Sarbojaya’s bold nature, seeing many ups and downs, and bends in the road, including the cruelest death of her daughter.
Keya Guha Roy, played the role of aged Indir Thakurun beautifully. Her expression, dialogue delivery and realistic portrayal were awesome. Sridhatri Bhattacharya as Durga, who cares deeply for her little brother Apu and for the grandmotherly figure of Indir Thakurun, and enjoys the simple pleasures of life with a naughty streak, stole the show.
Rajjyoti Pal as Apu and Sayan Basu Roy as Satu, despite their very young age, put up a splendid performance. The rest of the cast, Kalyan Ghoshal, Abhijit Chakraborty, Debabrata Sarkar, Indrani Chowdhury, Suparna Chowdhury and Raisa Chowdhury (as Sejo Thakuran), supported well.