Kolkata seems to go back in the culture of hitting the theatres on lazy Sunday evenings. Well, the City Dwellers have enough reason to do so. Some power packed performances from the well-known theatre personas of Kolkata off late, have pulled a certain cross section of the audience to the push back chairs of the Manchas of the City.
Well, keeping up with the tradition of good reputed intellectual work, Bratya Basu’s ‘Boma’ is surely bombing the right sentiments among the people of the City. Although he stays in news more for being the Tourism Minister of the Mamata Banerjee government, Bratya Basu seems to be better placed in the human hearts when it comes to designing of plays on stage. Undoubtedly, the production of BOMA with it’s on stage poetry and directed reality, Basu have been able to stir up the grey cells of the theatre goers of the times.
BOMA is based on the Alipore bomb case trial of 1908, when nationalists such as Aurobindo Ghosh and his brother Barindra were among 33 jailed following a blast on April 29 that killed the wife and daughter of a British lawyer. However, the target was a British judge who escaped the plot. But if one thinks BOMA is restricted to the portrayal of 1908, he is wrong. The production leaps out of its historic time and finds significance in the modern day politics of leadership issues, lobbies, groups, mistrust and a clash of egos.
It even portrays an ‘atmaghati’ leadership that transforms “Revolutionary Aurobindo” to “Rishi Aurobindo”. There is an atmosphere of inter-textual plots and interplay of egos in the play. It transcends the trial and finds its place in the day-to-day strife in human life.
At one stage, “anarchist” Barindra Ghosh is shown as transforming into a megalomaniac of sorts, apparently symbolising some of today’s leaders. In contrast, his brother Aurobindo steps away into the life of a saint before settling down in Puducherry.
The play depicts a class of superficial people who pay homage to their “big talks, funny excuses, taking falsehood to an art form, trying to be over smart and experts in falsehood. Besides, these are people who are essentially cowards, mentally hostile and always quarreling”. An acute theatre lover is sure to go back to the Pungent Poet Pope’s Age of Neo Classical Literature all over again. The stage crafts used by Basu in his play were also a visual treat for the audience. It justified the concept of intertexting of plots and incidents. The visuals spoke for itself.
At a point when the police officer uses harsh words on the middle class society, itis undoubtedly one of the best satirical scenes of the play. It gives the picture of Middle Class Intelligentia the Sisyphus of his own ego and self-centeredness.
The main storyline, though, revolves around the nationalist fervour of 1908 when groups such as Dhaka Anushilon Samity, and the Kolkata-based hardline Bengal Revolutionary Party worked to “free the native land from the rule of the British”.
The mixing of Sadhus and Revolutionaries in the play deserves to get a special mention and particularly the way Bratya Basu has treated them. It undoubtedly throws a question to the present political spectrum of the state. Although BOMA dates back to 1908, it finds the true significance in Basu’s way of telling the story in 2015.
Reviewed by Spandan Banerjee (Joint Editor of Campus)