Durga Puja is over.Another festive season has passed. This season has been quite special to me( I will write a detailed one on that as well..:-)) But I would go a few days back to Mahalaya, the day in which our Project Team had a special function to celebrate Debi's arrival.
The event was very well organised and all our team members did a brilliant job. During rehearsal, I saw a tabla lying in a colleague's desk. I was quite curious and was playing my hands over it. Sudip, a fellow colleague and friend, noticed it and immediately got hold of me. He urged me to play the same. However, owing to regular project work and couple of urgencies, I could not get time.
Well, let us go 20 years back, same time, SaltLake, kolkata.......Yours truly was a very social person then. Our para friends were doing Sukumar Ray's Lakkhaner Shaktishel for Mahasaptami. The play was directed by Arunava da, a fellow resident of our block. And yours truly was playing the role of none other than Lakkhan!!!
I do not know whether most of you have read the play. I would like to tell a few things about it. Lakkhan is the central character of the play. But he has a limited role. He is hurt by the Shaktishel from Rabon, and stays unconsious for quite some time, till Hanuman comes with Gandhamadan Parbat and saves Lakkhan's life. The entire play is a satire on the central characters, with witty dialogues and sharp ripostes from all and sundry.
I am(was..:-)) quite good at acting. In fact, the previous year, I played a central character in the pujo play. The play and everything, rehearsals etc were going along fine.However, after some time, I realised that I can play a much better role, either Hanuman or Ram's or for that matter, any other character. I did not have much to say, and lying down, pretending to sleep for long hours in rehearsal was quite boring. I only had few dialogues initially, and then a MAHA fight with Rabon and then falling down emphatically, saying 'Ha Hotoshmi'. This part was quite dramatic, but there was not much beyond that. I thought of telling this to Arunava da, but on second thoughts, decided against doing the same, as it might hamper team spirit. At that time, every evening, I used to go on a evening walk with Gora da and Zorro. Gora da is my neighbour(stays on the top floor) and Zorro was their pet Alsatian. I loved Zorro very much and enjoyed holding the rope and trying to pull him back when he lunged at street dogs at minor insinuations. Gora da was a dear friend then. Still now, I share a great rapport with him, but we do not talk that often now, as he has his friend circles and I have my own. Anyways, I told him my predicament. He listened intently and told me a short story. There was a great theatre actor in old Bangladesh, who after giving a few flops, was not getting many chances. Once he was asked to do a bits and pieces role for a pittance. He did that with such aplomb that post performance, everybody rushed to his house to offer congratulations. But when they came, they found that he had already left the village. He was never seen after that.
I was quite moved by the story. I thought about it the whole night. By the way, that day was also Mahalaya and we had only a few days left. Next day onwards, I was a different person in the set. I put my best foot forward and gave the best emotions while eliciting the dialogue 'Ha Hotoshmi', while keeping in mind that I must not overact.
The D day had come. Mahasaptami had arrived. We were all geared up backstage. I had put a lot of make up, with false hair and paint in my face. Well, the play started and I gave the performance. The crowd roared to a thunderous applause when I fell down saying 'Ha Hotoshmi'. I did not realise how good or bad I was. After the play, everyone congratulated me. Arunava da hugged me and said that I did a brilliant job.
Well, fast forward this Mahashtami. I was standing in the never ending queue, waiting for the Pujo Bhog. All of a sudden, a very old man accosted me in a way. He asked me whether I was Lakkhan. I was taken aback. I replied in the negative. Then he asserted, saying 'No, you are Lakkhan, you played the character in Lakkhaner Shaktishel, I have a very good memory, I do not forget people easily'. All of a sudden, my mind went up in a flash. I touched his feet. He blessed me and told me, besides other things, that every other Pujo, this play is held. Every time, somebody or the other is playing the central character. But this fellow is not satisfied with any of their performances. He is always looking for the good old 'Lakkhan' to play the lead. That is why, everytime, he is on the lookout for 'Lakkhan'!!
Well, standing in 21st century, when an unknown person says you such stuff, you might think he is crazy. Maybe he is. Nevertheless, I felt something inside me. The fella touched a raw nerve. Such feelings are indescribeable.
The guy requested me to play the character once more. Well, by then, the line had ended and I was about to get my share of Luchi! I assured him I would and bade him goodbye. It was about time, as he was getting over emotional.
Shall I enact the role again? Maybe.......