Theatre group Chenamukh celebrated its 40th anniversary with a retrospective. The group staged some of its famous plays, in association with the Bengal Association, during a two-day festival held at Muktadhara Auditorium in Delhi on 18 May and 20 May. Three plays, ‘Tonu kemon ache’, ‘Shesh Songlap’ and ‘Binodini’, were staged during the festival. Directed by Tarun Das, the plays introduced many fresh faces to the stage.

The play ‘Binodini’ was based on the real life story of a versatile stage artiste of the late 19th century. Binodini, daughter of a harlot, always wished to lead a normal life but falls prey to the evil society. She contributed substantially to the evolution of the Bengali stage and its actors. However, despite the fact that her group survived primarily on her, she was never treated with respect and was always made to feel like a “fallen woman”.

Binodini is better known as Nati Binodini. Prefix ‘Nati’ was added to celebrate her talent and versatility as an actress par excellence. Her colleagues did not keep their promise to name the theatre after her and christened it ‘Star Theatre’. However, her contribution to save her theatre group from the ruins is still remembered.

Originally conceptualised by Baidyanath Mukherjee, the play begins with the introduction of Binodini, the actress who dominated the Kolkata stage for more than a decade. The story is about her never-ending battle that started at a tender age. She was poor but was blessed with superb acting skills and a melodious voice. She was groomed to become a versatile actress-star under the mentorship of Nata-samrat (dramatist) Girish Chandra Ghosh. The smart, intelligent and ambitious Ghosh who dreamt of taking Bengali theatre to top of the cultural world persuaded Binodini to become the mistress of a wealthy fan, a Marwari businessman, for want of finance.

Playing the lead character of Binodini, Tarumita Das Dutta did full justice to the role. As Girish Ghosh, eminent stage artist Palash Das was more than convincing. Ashish Das, who played the Marwari businessman Gurmukh Ray Mussadi, stole the show with his expressions and dialogue delivery. Overall, it was almost a flawless presentation.

Other actors in the supporting  cast were Supratik Biswas (Amrita Lal Basu); John Roy (Amrita Mitra); Sushanta Sinha (Dasu Rathi Niyogi); Sudip Biswas (Atul); Sagar Mandal (A-babu); Prabir Dhar (Pratap Chand Johri); Snigdha Bhattacharjee (Panna); and Kusum Bit (Surath).

‘Binodini’ was a brilliantly structured play with perfect set and lighting and music, besides acting.

While the plot of Binodini revolved around social stigma, the other two plays performed as part of the retrospective represented comedy and thriller genres.

Two eminent Bengali theatre personalities from Delhi — octogenarian Sachipati Bhattacharya and Prasanta Bhattacharya — were felicitated on the occasion for their contributions in this field of theatre.