Photo: Ridwan Adid Rupon
On the third day (September 3) of the ongoing Ganga Jamuna Theatre and Cultural Festival, renowned dance troupe Nrityanchal staged their acclaimed production “Rai Krishna Padabali” at National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA).
Inspired by “Bhanusingher Padabali”, one of Tagore's earliest works, noted Bangladeshi poet Sheikh Hafizur Rahman wrote the dance-drama. Tagore not only composed the extraordinary lyrics, but also the soulful music for the dance-drama “Bhanusingher Padabali”. It also includes a composition by Vidyapati – Tagore's heartfelt tribute to the Vaishnav saint.
The endless journey of love between Rai and Krishna was set in Vrindavan. Rai (the role donned by danseuse Shamim Ara Nipa) is distraught prior to Krishna's (donned by Shibli Mohammad) ascension to the throne of Mathura. Rai shares unforgettable memories of Krishna with the Gopis and Gopinis (friends) -- Subal, Lalita, Bishakha, Brinda and others.
Meanwhile, Krishna's childhood friend Subal informs Rai of Krishna's intention of meeting her. Rai's longing for Krishna intensifies as she waits. The moment Krishna appears, she, however, feels awestruck. Her love, burnt by the flames of melancholy, has turned into ash. Krishna tries to appease her by praising her beauty. Eventually after endless persuasion by Krishna, Rai surrenders herself to him.
A raas leela follows, where the Gopis-Gopinis (donned by a number of artistes of Nrityanchal) dance to celebrate Rai and Krishna's eternal love.
Krishna riding on a royal chariot in all his splendour presented a fine sight. The dancers of the troupe aesthetically used graceful mudras when they pleaded with Krishna to remain in Brindaban. The artistes also fabulously performed the Raas Leela. Gaudiya with experimental dance styles was incorporated into the production.
Renowned Bangladeshi and Indian singers -- Haimanti Shukla, Rezwana Chowdhury Bonya, Manomoy Bhattacharya, Antara Chowdhury, Jayati Chakrobarty and Agniv Bandyopadhyay -- lent their voices to the musical. Noted Indian elocutionists Soumitra Chatterjee, Prodip Ghosh, Bratati Bandyopadhyay, Debashish Basu and Amit Roy narrated the story. Ratna Chowdhury, of India, directed the music.
Sheikh Hafizur Rahman's “Rai Krishna Padabali” was edited by Shankar Talukdar to suit the presentation. Sukalyan Bhattacharya (from India) planned and directed the dance-drama. The artiste also planned the costumes and props.
At the end of the show, noted media personality and coordinator of Nrityanchal, Muhammad Jahangir invited eminent Nazrul exponent and editor of Star Arts and Entertainment Sadya Afreen Mallick on stage to hand over the festival crest to Nrityanchal director duo Shibli Mohammad and Shameem Ara Nipa. The writer of the dance-drama Sheikh Hafizur Rahman was also on stage.
“There is no rehearsal room exclusively allotted for the dance troupes; we can use the theatre troupe's rehearsal room only if it is not booked. To stage a large scale production like 'Rai Krishna Padabali', we cannot go on stage without rehearsal and we have no alternative venue at National Theatre Hall. Another problem is where to keep the sets of the production for further performances. One individual has agreed to give us storage facilities in Sripur, Gazipur. Today's set is newly designed and costs Taka 1 lakh. The previous set was destroyed due to lack of a storage. Many groups invite us to stage this production outside Dhaka, but there are no proper halls. Yet we are grateful to Shilpakala for allotting us this venue. We hope to stage 'Rai Krishna Padabali' every three months, as many people want to watch it. Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed has acquired tickets for 200 of his students to watch this show as part of the course of 'Alokito Manush Chai' of Bishwa Sahitya Kendra,” said Muhammad Jahangir.