The thing about control is that it often controls you. It is never clearly evident, but it eventually sneaks into everything you do. Director Debasish Ray knows a thing or two about it. During the direction of Char Adhyay, a Bengali play that he’s staging as part of the 8th Theatre Olympics by National School of Drama, he has learnt to surrender. Pheww! What a relief felt. “I still do try and control. Guess it’s a habit, but I also understand that the best things happen when you surrender,” says Ray.
Relinquishing control has given him fruitful results time and again. As he basks in the awareness and acceptance that follows, he is able to direct the course of his play, as well as his life, better. “I think I am a confused director who looks at an empty stage and wants to govern every little action. I am surprised to learn that I do that repeatedly, but my intention is to only do complete justice to what I create,” he says.
Char Adhyay has been adapted from Rabindranath Tagore’s celebrated political novel by the same name. It based on a group of young intellectuals and revolutionaries involved with the Indian independence movement. How politics of the day impacts personal lives, is something that’s been spoken of through the play. It throws open the debate about how extreme nationalism leads to societal turbulence. “Situations like these, compel the leader to be hard on his people to bring about radical change. In the process, he has to compromise with honesty, ideals and other things,” he says.
At the time of directing the play, Ray has to keep something important in mind—blending harsh organising systems with unending emotions. He calls the subtext of the play as a sleeping volcano. Because certain things are personal, politics being one, conflict can easily artist two people with different points of view.
Having said that, the aforementioned point about personal freedom of thought can rarely bring about an ideal consensus over a matter. What is right for you may not be right for the other person, and that goes for that they consider ideal too.
This play has been produced by Sandarbha Theatre Group, a 40 years old theatre organisation. It’s part of a conglomerate of 450 shows being held in 17 cities with 25,000 artists. Running parallelly to the main event are seminars, workshops with academicians, scholars, authors, actors, designers and directors. 8th Theatre Olympics 2018 go on till April 8. Log on to 8ththeatreolympics.nsd.gov.in/en/schedule.php for more