Capturing vignettes from the life of Krishna | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 09, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 09, 2008

Manipuri Theatre

Capturing vignettes from the life of Krishna

Members of Manipuri Theatre perform “Shree Krishna Kirtan”. Photo: STAR

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Indigenous troupe Manipuri Theatre arranged a two-day programme at the Experimental Theatre Hall, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy to celebrate its 12th anniversary. On the first day (November 7), the troupe staged its production “Shree Krishna Kirtan” and a traditional Manipuri art form “Natpala”.
“Shree Krishna Kirtan” is the troupe's 13th production. When the play was first staged, it was over three hours long. However at the Experimental Hall, the troupe had to whittle down the play to one hour and five minutes. Shubhashish Shameer adapted the play from a medieval piece written by Baru Chandidas.
Chandidas wrote “Shree Krishna Kirtan” to highlight the anthropomorphic aspects of Lord Krishna. It was an ardous process as he had to pore over puran and religious books. In the play, Shameer worked on only seven episodes out of 13 from Chandidas' piece.
At the beginning of the play, we see the central figures of Krishna and Radha. Radha along with Barayi and her friends goes to Vrindavan, where Barayi loses her way and meets young Krishna. Barayi describes Radha's beauty to Krishna and asks him to direct her to her home. A besotted Krishna asks Barayi to play the mediator for him so that he can get Radha to accept him as a suitor.
Barayi tells Radha about her encounter with Krishna in Vrindavan. However Radha turns down Krishna's proposal. At this, Krishna feels humiliated and vengeful. On the banks of Jamuna river, Krishna once again proposes to Radha but his efforts go in vain. A desperate Krishna finally seizes Radha through 'madan baan'.
Jyoti Sinha and Shukla Sinha were superb in the roles of Radha and Barayi. Aparna Sinha could have done better as Krishna. The costumes of the protagonists incorporated the traditional Manipuri attire. The dialogue of play was in Bishnupriya Manipuri dialect. Shameer undertook the uphill task of translation.
A traditional “natpala” was staged after the “Shree Krishna Kirtan”. Influenced by the Vaishnavism, Manipuri people depicted the tale of Radha-Krishna through the natpala. The performance was half an hour long, Accompanied by Maripuri traditional instruments like ‘mridanga’, ‘dhol’ and ‘mandira’, the pala was quite enjoyable.
Earlier, an inauguration programme was held at the same venue. Veteran Manipuri mridanga player Aja Kannu Sinha inaugurated the festival through a performance. Shubhashish Shameer gave the welcome speech. Chairman of Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation, M. Hamid was the chief guest. Noted theatre personality Mamunur Rashid; general secretary of Bangladesh Adibashi Forum, Sanjib Drong; president, Joom Aesthetic Council, Shishir Chakma, among others, spoke at the programme. Professor Ranajit Sinha, advisor, Manipuri Theatre, presided over the programme.

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