Late Pakistani writer Sadat Hasan Manto is not a familiar name to the Dhaka audience, nor are his scathing stories widely known to the locals here. Noted theatre troupe Nagarik Natya Sampraday, for its recent production, selected three of Manto’s short stories to acquaint local audience with works of the writer.
Kolkata-based thespian Usha Ganguly was invited to do the script and direct the three short and interconnected plays. Usha, who has worked on Manto earlier and has a penchant for Manto’s writings, worked for a month with Nagarik artistes to produce the plays.
The result was a compact and stimulating production titled Naamgotrohin Manto-r Meyera, which compiled three noted short stories of Manto into one production. Nagarik premiered the play at National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Thursday for a full hall audience.
All three plays, based on Manto’s stories, deal with women who are prostitutes by profession, not by design. Manto sharply reveals the reality behind their surface identity and delves into the reasons which pushed them to prostitution. The author also portrays the harsh reality that these women have to face.
The plays- Kali Salwar, License and Hatak- were sewn together by narrator-connectors whose commentaries and narrations shed light on the facts and realities of these women’s lives.
Sultana of Kali Salwar, Niti of License and Sugandhi of Hatak, in Manto’s hands and Usha’s befitting adaptation, broke the enforced silence on them and voice their feelings.
Api Karim in the role of Sultana, Shriya Sarbajaya as Niti and Sara Zaker as Sugandhi were the pillars of the production. Besides, Pantha Shariar, Mostafiz Shahin and Rajib Dey were apt in their performances.
‘This is my first direction with a theatre troupe of Bangladesh. I hope Manto’s Meyera did not seem distant to the audience’, said Usha Ganguly, who is president of Indian theatre troupe Rangakarmi.
Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, speaker of the national assembly, Asaduzzaman Noor, cultural affairs minister, thespians like Ataur Rahman and Aly Zaker were present as special guests and acclaimed the production.
-With New Age input