Theatre festival to pay tribute to Irom Sharmila

Kolkata: Rabindranath Tagore`s 1926 dance drama `Natir Puja` based on a Buddhist legend, has now been adapted by a prominent theatrician of the city to pay tribute to Manipur`s `Iron Lady` Irom Sharmila.

"I have changed the climax of the play a little. This is dedicated to the lone struggle of Sharmila. Although I have not named her anywhere in the play, but there are similarities with her life," theatrician Koushik Sen said.

It was after he read that Sharmila has not eaten a morsel of food for the last 11 years to protest against the `draconian` Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), he saw Tagore`s work in a different light.

"It immediately made me think of her and so when I decided to direct it, the change came automatically. Theatre has to be kept contemporary and we cannot keep on harping on the past," Sen said.

Inspired by a tale from the Buddhist series in `Abadan Shatak`, `Natir Puja` is the only instance when Tagore interacted closely and directly with the medium of cinema. In
1932, New Theatres had made it into a film.

Tagore had himself essayed an important role in this dance-drama which he also directed.

Sen`s `Natir Puja`, to have Arpita Chatterjee and Kanchan Mullick in key roles, will be one of the five plays during the 11th edition of Vodafone`s five-day Odeon theatre festival beginning December 17.

Yet another adaptation of Tagore`s work would feature in the theatre festival.

`Juta Abhiskar`, which echoes the bard`s views on social issues, has been adapted in Raja Bhattacharya-directed `The Great New Life` and would view the subject through the eyes of those working in a circus.

Rajat Kapoor`s `Clown Lear`, which sees King Lear from the eyes of a clown, will be the opening play. Salim Arif`s `Hum Safar`, which features a poem written by Gulzar and is a modern day tale on the relationship of a couple and their search for emotional stability would also be staged during the festival.

The theatre fest will also present `Ashalin`, a play written by West Bengal Education Minister Bratya Basu.


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