a national day looms 'round the corner we, the ones active
in the field of performing arts, are often asked by one
or the other cultural reporter what have we achieved with
our creative endeavours addressing the specific day? These
are days like the Independence Day, the Victory Day or the
innocuous questions have become so common that, to me, they
seem meaningless and irritating. Usually, I try to ignore
them. But the questions keep coming over and over again.
It does seem that the person at the questioning end is performing
a routine job and has given very little thought to what
me embark upon the universe of discourse. Theatre is my
field. An ample example could be a play on the occasion
of the national day. That is just fine. There could also
be a play about the particular day. This, I think, is a
self-limiting exercise because it is time bound. Not every
great event in history has necessarily been recorded as
it happened in a piece of literature or art. The creator
took the liberty of interpreting the event as he thought
it best suits him. In that, the possibility is limitless.
You could get a Bishad Shindhu or a Man without Shadows,
Julius Caesar or a Sirajuddoulah inspired by great historical
events, making their places as near epics in the annals
of creative writing.
few plays have been written on the immortal martyrs' day
following the language movement in Bangladesh. The only
play that has stood the test of time on this event is "Kabor"
by Shaheed Munier Chowdhury. That does not make the day
less important or the inspiration of the day less significant
for a creative writer or an artist. Whether such events
excite creative minds to come out with something memorable
is what is important. To my judgement there are only about
a couple of significant plays directly related to our war
of liberation. Does that make the war unimportant or the
liberation less desirable? I think it should be foolhardy
to think so.
best of my knowledge most great works inspired by great
events have had very little to do with the event itself.
The ones that could be defined as being directly related
to events are usually classified as such. At a macro level
some definitions imposed on certain artistic endeavours
come to me as superfluous and unwanted. Like the words “political
theatre”, though evocative, is much less meaningful given
the fact that the plays belonging to this genre go beyond
politics and have more to do with life itself. Take Brecht,
for instance. His plays, though had a Marxist leaning, did
deal with the universality of predicament of the common
people in a society plagued by the injustices meted out
by those who control it.
it would be in fitness of things to see whether the great
events that have enriched our history have any bearing on
or contribution to our creative endeavours. In fact most
of the good plays that have been performed on our stage
have been inspired by the important events in our national
life. One play that readily comes to mind is “Nuraldeener
Shara Jiban” written by Syed Shamsul Haq and performed by
our group for nearly a hundred nights. This play, inspired
by our liberation war, is based on the life of Nuraldeen,
a peasant from Rangpur who had taken up arms against the
British colonialists and the feudal lords back in the eighteenth
century. He fought like a guerrilla leader until such time
that he had decided to take on the British in a frontal
battle that killed him. Syed Haq introduced this sudden
change in the tactic of Nuraldeen which is his own interpretation.
And that came as the foremost creative twist in the play.
History records that Nuraldeen was crestfallen to have found
that those that were downtrodden and looked up to him for
leadership had started calling him “Nawab”. Syed Haq writes,
Nuraldeen always wanted to be a leader of the masses and
not a lord or master. Was this consecration so painful for
Nural that he decided to virtually commit suicide by engaging
the British in a frontal battle which he knew could never
win? There is a superb soliloquy towards the end of the
play to this effect that enthrals the audience. This play,
we all know and Syed huq admits, was inspired by the war
of our liberation and, indeed, lived it truly in its spirit.
we see that any creative work of great quality can be inspired
by a great event in a nation's history. Maybe when cultural
scribes look for special works of art on special occasions
they should indeed look for such works that are able to
bring glory to the nation irrespective of subjectmatters.