Theatre in Assam gets a whiff of fresh air through ‘Bano’

NURUL ISLAM LASKAR

Photos by Plabita Borgohain

The most talked about budding theatre personality of Assam, Kismat Bano, staged her latest theatrical production ‘Bano’ at Rabindra Bhawan Guwahati on April 23 last to a full house of theatre lovers of the city. The play based on Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ was a production of the Wings Theatre Group set up earlier by Kismat Bano herself. The play also depicted some of the events and experiences from Bano’s own life that made the dramatic performance so real and acceptable to the audience.

Moinul Hoque, renowned mime artiste of Assam and Sangeet Natak Akademy Award winner, who inaugurated the play, said “I am an ardent admirer of the Wings Theatre Group especially because they are encouraging the young artistes of the State and hence I have come to watch this play with great expectations.”

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The story of ‘Bano’ opens in a house where Bano is doing rehearsals for her new play based on William Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. In the play, King Lear plays a game with his daughters Regan, Goneril, and Cordelia, to find out which among his three daughters loves him the most. This same situation also arises in Bano’s home and her mother also decides to play a game with her three daughters, to find out how much they love her. Both the elder daughters give their mother flattering answers, but the youngest one, Bano, like Cordelia of ‘King Lear’ remains silent saying that words and language are insufficient to express her love for her mother. Her lacklustre retort, despite its sincerity, enrages her mother and she agrees to a marriage proposal, suggested by her son-in-law, for Bano. But Bano requests her mother to reject the proposal because preparations for her play “King Lear” is in progress and the performance date is approaching, but her mother doesn’t respond to her request. As Cordelia in the play leaves her father’s kingdom, Bano too gets married and starts a new life, but due to some circumstances her marriage doesn’t last long.

The depiction of her struggle, crises, and dream is ‘Bano’ all about.

There were ten main characters in the play. The story centres on Bano, her two other sisters and mother. Bano’s father is dead and there is an uncle (Moulvi Chacha) who hovers on the family all the time disturbing their peace. Bano’s elder sister is married and her husband is a ghar jamai. Somewhere in the middle of the play, Bano is married but soon after the marriage it is found that her newly married husband is not only a crook but also an already married person. The rest of the characters are surreal and create a dreamlike like musical scene towards the end of the play.

While Kismat Bano stands out tall in the lead role of Bano with her superb dialogue delivery, expression of feelings with her eyes and body language, displaying all human emotions with meticulous perfection, Gargee Dutta as Bano’s mother also discharges her character with sincerity to win over the audience. Sana Bano and Rikita Singhi, in the role of Bano’s sisters, fit into their characters pretty well while Raj Dutta as Bano’s brother in law and ghar jamai of the family plays his role in an equally impressive manner. Ashfaque Khan in the role of the Moulvi Chacha and Avkash Kumar Jammar as Bano’s husband had challenging assignments, but both of them do justice to their role. Rupjyoti Deka, Somnath Monojjal, and Chiranjeev Kich in the climax surreal scene are able to leave their mark on the audience.

Music selection and operation by Diku and light design by Kaushik Borbora were completely in keeping with the demands of the play. Costume and other off stage support were provided by Reshma Qureshi, Saikh Md Sabha al Ahmed, Bhargab Das, Rupjyoti Deka, and Somnath Monojjal.

Going back a little into Kismat Bano’s foray into the world of theatre in Assam, she had established her own theatre troupe Wings Theatre (Cultural Group) in Guwahati at her own residence. Initially Wings’ focus was exclusively on performances, but gradually there was a need to diversify its activities. As a response to this requirement and in the greater interest of Assamese theatre, it was felt that young artistes and differently-abled who are important part of the society should be encouraged with their activities in the cultural arena. Consequently, the number of activity with young artistes and differently-abled children’s was increased through various new initiative of the Group. Credit for all this goes to Kismat Bano and her concern for the society.

 Kismat Bano, at a very young age, has already acted in over 15 plays in different languages- including Assamese and Hindi and these plays have been staged in many major cities of the country. To mention some of these plays: Aakaas, Madyhyabartini, Jatra, The lesson, Komala kuwaori, Helen, and Puhor. She has participated in different top drama events and festivals such as Bharat Rang Mahotsav, Nandikar, EZCC, Sangeet Natak Academy, Prithvi, Nehru Centre, PDA festivals, Kalakshetra Chennai, Octave festival (Goa and Rajasthan) and at Qadir Ali Baig theatre festival etc. She and her young brigade deserve and need all the support and appreciation that the society can give.