The lure of ‘roopkotha’

January 12, 2009

‘Konthoshilon’ stages fairy tale-based plays
Mainul Hassan
Who has not heard or read fairy tales in childhood? To every child ‘roopkotha’ (fairy tales) from “Thakurmar Jhuli” (grandmother’s repertoire), involving ‘ponkhiraj’ (flying horse), ‘Rakkhosh Puri’ (den of demons) have always been a subject of great fascination.
On January 10, cultural organisation ‘Konthoshilon’ organised a “Golpo Bolar Ashor” (narration of stories) at Shawkat Osman Memorial Auditorium, Central Public Library. Titled “Rupkathar Golpo”, the event featured staging of two plays based on the famous tales of “Kolaboti Rajkanya” and “Neel Komol Aar Lal Komol”.
With evocative theatrics and use of colourful masks and props, artistes of Konthoshilon brought to life the ever-popular fairy tales on the stage, taking the audience on a journey through magical adventures.
“Kolaboti Rajkanya” was staged first. The story revolves around two princes who were born as a monkey and an owl. They take off on a journey in search of the Kolaboti Rajkanya, a beautiful princess living in ‘Patalpuri’ (an underground world). On the way the brothers face many obstacles — the “Kantha Buri” (a woman with a magic quilt that can paralyse anyone when thrown upon), dark dungeons and so on. But armed with good intentions and truth on their side, and a little help of magic, the brothers overcome all evil. The monkey prince marries Kolaboti Rajkanya and the owl prince marries princess Hirabori. In the end the brothers are transformed into humans and they live happily ever after, as tradition goes.
One of the most familiar of “Thakurmar Jhuli” tales, “Neel Komol Aar Lal Komol” is also a story of two princes, who were reborn to avenge their deaths at the hands of ‘Rakkhosh’ (demons) from their previous lives. In their previous lives, the brothers were Kushum and Ajit. Their father, the King, had two wives. Unbeknown to the King, Kushum’s mother was a demon princess in disguise. Through a surprise attack, her demon minions overrun the kingdom and kill everyone including the prince brothers, and imprison the King with a spell for eternity. The brothers are reborn and take revenge, with the help of magic of course.
This was the first initiative by Konthoshilon to promote traditional ‘roopkotha’. The organisation mostly stages recitation programmes.
“’Roopkotha’ are gems of our culture, but the tradition is on the verge of extinction. This initiative has been taken to promote our indigenous fairy tales among urban children,” said Azharul Haq Azad, director of the plays.
“We hope to hold more such programmes regularly and promote our folklore in a modern form,” added the director.
The programme drew a sizable crowd.


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