Monday, November 28th, 2022 09:53:11

A Life On Stage

Updated: November 24, 2012 1:10 pm

A unique bunch of writer JP Das’ plays, translated into English and finely edited by Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee, offers a complete insight into the human state of mind and condition so related. Theatre artists celebrate this Odia writer’s plays and perform with éclat. Talking of his plays Sundardas (1993) on the early politics of conversion, won him the Nandikar Award in 2001. Many other plays authored by Das in a perfect narrative style have been staged by NSDians. His plays with simplest form of the language were big. His insights come from his experience in the All India Students Federation during his days at Ravenshaw College in Cuttack, where he co-edited the journal Agami, and his experiences as an administrator, particularly in Kalahandi. When he was writing about the famine conditions in 19th Century Orissa in his novel (Desha Kala Patra), he was surely conscious about his first hand experience in Kalahandi.

Writing came naturally to JP, after resigning from the Indian Administrative Service in 1984, he took to writing full time and went on to become the Vice Chairman of NSD. He remained in Delhi for its vibrant theatre scene and the culture that exists around the NSD. His more recent works are poems for children.

On the prevailing scene of theatre, his plays play a significant role as the author himself says that a play should be a literary piece of writing which should be as much fun reading as seeing it performed on stage. He seems rather averse to the idea of satirical sketches dealing with contemporary social and political issues.

The book has a string of plays like The Underdog, Miss X, Absurd Play, Made For Each Other which gives an exotic picture of alterations of a human life. The plays in this volume were translated at different times and published in the past in theatre journal Enact and also in book form.

JP, an author class apart when it comes to writing plays in the most subtle manner. He views that Indian English theatre is “a very different kettle of fish. The English theatre scene is very different from the regional language theatres.

If you have a real flair for drama, this book supplies a great deal of information pertaining to every move of how a stage play is performed and those nuances involved in enacting a play. Das’s first play Before the Sunset in the1970s was a glorious period of modern Indian drama,when playwrights writing in different languages were widely translated and staged all over the country and sense of a national Indian theatre was developing. Before the Sunset was the first staged Bangla version in Hindi in Delhi directed by Ram Gopal Bajaj with Om Puri playing the lead. An English translation of the play was published in the theatre magazine Enact and translations into Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada and other languages followed to be staged in different parts of the country. Over the years, the play has achieved the status of a classic. This volume brings together under one cover all the plays of J.P.Das that came out in their English versions at different times. The plays in this volume are very different from each other in characterization.

Das’s last play Sundardas is an insightful treatment of politics of conversation and carries a significant aspect of today’s life at a fast pace. This play introduces one to the real India of traditions and cultures where idol worship and caste discrimination were prevalent. Besides, all the plays in the book are an elaborative job of the author where every dialogue has an impact on its own.

I conclude saying that this volume of Complete Plays will bear the testimony to the versatility of JP Das as a writer and essayist. The read gives a vivid and live picture right from the stage that makes the reading like watching a play.

By Syed Wajid Ali

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