Playwright & Director: Tamojit Roy
Group: Jalpaiguri Kalakushali, West Bengal
Language: Bengali
Duration: 1 hr 10 mins

 

 

 

The Play

The time setting of the play is the evening before the great war of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata. The place of occurrence is Badrikashrama, where Vyasa, along with his son Shuka and four other disciples, is engaged in teaching the Vedas and Upanishads. Worldwide corruption, treachery, hypocrisy and downfall of humanity have made Shuka to sacrifice his life; he is in the state of Samadhi. In these times of turmoil, the great Bhishma reaches the Ashrama of Vyasa, and wants to wake up Shuka. The third gender emerges before his eyes and leaves him bewildered. Shuka strikes him with sharp questions, satire, and irony on Bhishma’s war-thirst, oppressive nature, unkindness to the fairer sex and above all, the male ego. Bhishma in return strikes Shuka. The figure represents itself as Shikhandi or Amba and fades away foreboding to kill Bhishma in the battlefield, leaving the audience perplexed with dubiousness whether he/she was real or just a hallucination of Bhishma. Then Vyasa attacks Bhishma’s taking the side of the power, i.e the Kauravas. Just then the Prantapal, a representative of Duryodhana, appears announcing the seizure of the assets of the Ashrama for war emergencies. The Ashrama of Vyasa is also to be seized… Finally, Vyasa promises to write down the true history of this war. The play ends with chanting of the hymn of awakening Shuka.

 

Director’s Note

Shuka is an imaginary narrative, based on and inspired by Mahabharata. The play rotates around wise Shukadev, son of Vyasa, in the backdrop of the great war of Kurukshetra. Shuka is not a mere individual here, rather a concept, that confronts his father Vyasadev and great Bhishma. Why do the states engage in wars, why do they want to grasp everything – even academic institutions – these questions are raised in the play. Male dominated society mingles with the power politics of the state. Shuka, representing the third gender questions the futility of the male ego. Somewhere he even acts as the alter ego of Shikhandi who wants to confront Bhishma, the icon of male dominance, and eventually the power structure of the society as a whole.  Another important question arises out of the churning of politics and politics of gender – what and where should be the place of teachers and educators in the game of power politics? Which side should they belong to? Vyasadev says, “Go to the masses, and awaken humanity”.

 

The Director & Playwright

Tamojit Roy is an Assistant Professor in Cooch Behar College. He is an active member, and presently the director, of Jalpaiguri Kalakushali, a renowned theatre group of Jalpaiguri. He has been a director in Coochbehar Bratyasena too. He regularly takes part in theatre productions as an actor, designer, light designer and music composer. He has written and directed at least 30 plays including 8 plays for children.

Some of his important productions that received critical acclaim are Juddha Juddhakhela, Vokatta, Borishaler Jogen Mandol, Shuka, Nemesis, Kencho, Kheerer Putul. He has received 10 best director awards in different state level theatre competitions including the Habib Tanvir Purashkar given by the West Bengal Govt.

 

The Group

Jalpaiguri Kalakushali was established in 1974. Since its inception, it has performed at least 20 full-length plays, 25 one-act plays, 20 plays in original script for and with the children around West Bengal and some other parts of our country. It has organized several workshops and festivals including a theatre festival for children which is held every year for the last 15 years. It has participated in many prestigious theatre festivals and received a number of awards.

 

Cast & Credits

Bhishma                                                          Priyajit Roy

Krishnadwaipayan Vedavyas                          Apurba Saha

Shuka                                                              Abhijit Basu

Saytabati                                                          Poulami Mukharjee

Daasi                                                               Sudeshna Barman

Rishi Jaimini                                                    Subhadeep Saha

Rishi Sumanta                                                  Arijit Banerjee

Rishi Paila                                                        Sougata Ghosh

Rishi Vaisampayan                                          Sourva Ghosh

Prantapal (warrior of Duryodhan)                    Nilanjan Guha

 

Set Design and Costume                                  Abhijit Basu

Make-up                                                          Sandip Banerjee
Producer                                                          Jalpaiguri Kalakushali

 

Story, Script, Direction, Light Design                       Tamojit Roy

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