Dance drama ‘Mahanirvan’ was staged on May 15 at the auditorium of Natmondol of the department of theatre and music of Dhaka University in the city. The dance drama was performed by a group called Sri Aurobindo Anusilan Society of Kolkata in India. The programme was jointly organised by the Indian high commission and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.
The dance drama was directed and choreographed by Dr Jaganmoy Banerjee, music was composed and sung by folk singers Nibedita Lahiri and Shaumendronath De, and recitation was done by Mita Mandal and Nibedita Lahiri. The plot of the drama was about Gautama Buddha’s teaching and influences in this region. It was a splendid display of comic portrayal of the great man’s tale. Although, whether the comic part was intentional or not is unknown, and whether it can really be called a dance drama is highly debatable. The roar of the audience’s laughter made it seem like a comedy drama, but the organisers’ sincerity said otherwise.
Moreover, there were more recorded music and dialogues than dance in this dance drama. Even then, the songs sounded more like early 1990’s music from West Bengal films than theatre music, especially with smoke machines and a disco ball. ‘Mahanirvan’ was basically a cramped account of three incidents or stories about Buddha. A very popular story of Amropali, a woman with a dead infant, and a ‘Chandal’ feeding him with pork meat, were all accommodated into the drama. But where one started and the other began was completely lost to the audience.
The line up of actors is not known, due to the lack of cooperation of the organisers. Pro vice chancellor of Dhaka University Professor Harun-ur Rashid and first secretary of culture and information Dr Deepak Mittal were present among others as guests. But despite their ‘eloquent’ speeches, many people from the audience felt displeased with their performance. An audience on condition of anonymity said, ‘they are famous in India?! The show seemed more like a backyard jatra practice than a dance drama!’