Tens of thousands of enthusiastic people marched to the archaeological site of Vashubihar in the then ancient capital of Bengal--Pundranagar, Bogura to watch the play Mahasthan. Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) premiered the play on the evening of November 23. Previously, BSA had produced and staged Sompur Kathon and Wari-Bateshwar in 2014. Sporting a huge budget, Mahasthan took 2 years of preparation and rehearsals to execute. It sheds light on the 3000-year old archaeological site with its distinctive socio-political and cultural change of courses.
Written by Dr Selim Mozahar and directed by renowned thespian Liaquat Ali Lucky, Mahasthan is an artistic tale of transforming archaeological history into visual poetry. The production depicts our ethnographical history as well. A unique compilation, ranging from the ancient history of Pundranagar to our glorious Liberation War, is portrayed in the play. It is an archaeological saga that has been expressed in the form of Palagaan, incorporating episodes and songs from the ancient Hunting Age to the Vedic Era; from indigenous stage to Ramayana Geet along with the poetry of Kalidasa, Charyapada, Sufisama, Vaishnava Padavali, Brahmasangeet, folk songs, Bratachari songs, Panchokabi'r Gaan and Kavyageet. Historical flashbacks on Anti-British Movement, the Language Movement and Liberation War were also portrayed.
Around 350 theatre artistes, with their immaculate performances, captivated the audience in the four open-air stages. As the sequences of the play proceeded, the audience went down memory lane to revisit the ancient and contemporary history of Bangladesh. The production's set, light, costume and props were designed to aesthetically suit to the representative features of different eras, dynasties and regimes. The music director, Kamol Khalid, did a commendable job to embellish the play with lyrical episodes and epoch-capturing songs.
Md Nasir Uddin Ahmed, secretary to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, inaugurated the premiere with eminent litterateur Professor Hasan Azizul Haque as chief guest and BSA DG Liaquat Ali Lucky in the chair. Renowned thespians Manchasarathi Ataur Rahman and Professor Abdus Selim; Md Altaf Hossain, DG, Department of Archaeological Department; Fayez Ahmed, DC, Bogura and Gaziur Rahman, Additional SP of the district attended the occasion among others as special guests.
“Such an archaeological play is unforeseen not only in the sub-continent, but the world. The glorious episodes of Mahasthan delineate the entire Bengal and its peoples' becoming magnanimous through the play,” said Liaquat Ali Lucky.
Mahasthangarh had been declared as the Cultural Capital of SAARC in 2016. The extensive ruins of Mahasthangarh, sprawling on the western bank of the Karotoya river in Bogura district, represent the earliest city-site in Bengal. It has been identified as the provincial capital of the Maurya, the Gupta, the Pala and the Sena from the third century BC to the twelfth century AD.