This issue of Ekhphrases showcases the young artiste, Srijan Chatterjee. He is a singer, Sculptor, Painter, Music Director, Theatre person, Teacher and a Sanskrit scholar.
A Review of the Musical Theatre Production: Galiyon se Ghat tak conceptualized and directed by Srijan Chatterjee.
Galiyon se Ghat Tak is a Hindi musical theatre production conceptualized and directed by Srijan Chatterjee. It was first staged as an open-air theatre at Daga Nikunj on 5th of February 2020, produced by Alka Jalan Foundation. The play has been staged again at G.D. Birla Sabhaghar, Kolkata on 16th of April and produced by Sanskriti Sagar. It travelled to New Delhi at O.P. Jindal Auditorium, on 24th of July 2022 on invitation by SPACE: Society of Performing Arts for Cultural Exchange, for their Silver Jubilee Celebrations.
The play very aesthetically captures the quintessence of Benares or Kashi through a kaleidoscope of narratives weaving with music and taking us through the lanes and by lanes of the city. The Sutradhar of the play is a middle-aged local woman of Benares, in her early sixties who narrates how various shades of love as different strands of narratives journey through these lanes and by lanes to meet the flowing river in the evening at the time of the Sandhya Arati. The basic idea of the play is how all our tales of love and desire ultimately journey towards moksha. The role of the Sutradhar is wonderfully enacted by Nivedita Bhattacharjee. Srijan Chatterjee acts as a part of the Sutradhar’s consciousness through his rich vocals: Thumris, Chaitis, Mirzapuri Kajris, Hori, Shiva Mahimna Strotras, Nirgun of Kabir. He also plays the role of various characters. Dialogues weave into the mainstream narrative as other characters join in. Stage sets, props, all designed by Srijan along with his vocals and the narratives mixing and mingling together form a rich tapestry of colours, music, dance, laughter, dialogue fusing memory with desire. What is wonderful is that all the characters could so perfectly adopt the Benarasi accent. The play is about one evening in Benares and for that one and half hours, the aesthetics of the production could captivate the minds of the audience and could transport them mentally to Kashi and make them relish the essence of the city.
Main Actors included:
Nivedita Bhattacharjee- as Sutradhar
Palash Chaturvedi – played the roles of a Pandit, a weaver of Benarasi sarees and a paanwallah.
Afridi Hossain- played the roles of a traditionally Benarasi local person and a weaver and “mithai-maker”.
Rohit Basfore- Played the roles of an opium-eater, a lover, a “mithai-maker”.
Basundhara Ghosh- Played the roles of a daughter-in-law of the sutradhar, of a beloved, a tawaif, a local lady, etc.
Supporting vocals: Rajsirsha Das & Rupsirsha Das.
Instrumentalists: Tuhin Sengupta on pakhawaj, Arka Banerjee on tabla, Bappaditya Chakraborty on Keyboard & harmonium, Swarup Mukherjee on flute, Pankaj Das on percussion.
Sets & Props: Srijan Chatterjee & Soumyadeep Banerjee.
Lights by Soumen Chakraborty.
Photo courtesy: Subrangshu Chakravarty.
2. Kali: Paintings by Soumyadeep Banerjee, a student of Srijan Chatterjee.
Soumyadeep Banerjee is Srijan Chatterjee’s student learning painting from him. Both of these paintings use the iconography in Tantric philosophy. Sanatana dharma is the only dharma where femininity is also considered as superconsciousness along with masculinity. The semiotics of both the paintings have been explained by Srijan Chatterjee.
Chinnamasta or Prachanda-Chandika
She is the sixth deity in the Dasha-Mahavidya. She is flanked on both sides by her two women companions: Varnini on her right and Dakini on her left. It is difficult for any human imagination to grasp her divine beauty and power and what she actually is. She comes to us in three different forms of Shakti bigraha. She has severed her own head. She is a symbol of the state of atmarama. This is the state in which a sadhak or sadhika meets with his/her own self and gets totally engrossed in it. Without perceiving the richness of the Shringar rasa, it is difficult to reach that state of jouissance. That is why, Devi is standing upon the mithun murti of Kama and Rati. The garland of severed heads symbolize the fifty varnas or alphabets or vaikhari vaak. The garland of bones symbolizes shuddha satva, or purity. The three streams of blood spurting from the Devi’s neck symbolize the sushumna in the middle and ida and pingala. They also symbolize trigunas: satva, rajas and tamas. Beheading herself and drinking her own blood is the state of Jeevan-mukti where a sadhak or sadhika has full control over his/her death.
There are many forms of Kali in Tantra Shastras. Smashan Kali is one of them. Smashan means crematorium. Devi dwells in smashana bhumi on a corpse. Smashan represents the shunya.
Smashana Kali is the embodiment of chaitanya and also of the ultimate Truth. The corpse has become Shiva by the Devi’s divine touch. The jackals denote peace in the environment. Without peace, superconscious state of consciousness cannot be reached. The funeral pyre represents the Jnana which burns one’s sense of mortality to ashes. The terrible beauty of the Devi signifies the naked Truth, which has the power to destroy everything.