Ebong Bidyasagar: a tale of Bangalee Renaissance
A glimpse of life and works of Iswar Chandra Bidyasagar was brought on stage as theatre troupe Arannyak Natyadal held a show of its acclaimed production Ebong Bidyasagar at the National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on 25 September.
Written by Mannan Heera, Ebong Bidyasagar is the 46th production of the troupe. The production is directed by renowned theatre personality and actor Mamunur Rashid.
“Arannayak always wants to bring historic characters of the 19th century on stage as this era is referred to as the period of Bangalee Renaissance. It was a time when the city of Kolkata underwent transition,” Mamunur Rashid says.
“Iswar Chandra Bidyasagar played the leading role in revoking the custom of Satidaho. He also encouraged Hindu widows to re-marry. Arannayak’s 46th production is a tribute to him,” he adds.
Bidyasagar was a philosopher, academic, educator, writer, translator, printer, publisher, entrepreneur, social reformer and a philanthropist. He made significant contributions to modernise Bangla prose. Apart from being a renowned scholar of Sanskrit and Bangla, Bidyasagar is mostly known as a social reformer who fought against strict religious customs of the Hindu society.
Showcasing the mid-19th century, the play features not only the social reforms done by Bidyasagar but also the society of that time.
In this play, the character of Bidyasagar develops as a humanist, not a reformist. He has been presented as a noble soul who arranges marriage for the widows and protests against the practice of polygamy.
Bidyasagar faces many obstacles and challenges as he attempts to bring about an end to many strict religious practices in the then Hindu society. Mamunur Rashid through his skilled direction has presented even the most serious scenes with a taste of comedy.
Mamun himself plays Bidyasagar.
An interesting segment of the play features poet Michael Madhusudan Dutta, a contemporary of Bidyasagar. One of the greatest poets of Bangla literature, Madhusudan spent the last days of his life in financial difficulties. In the play, Bidyasagar is seen helping the poet. Deepak Suman plays the role of Madhusudan.
Momena Chowdhury, Rubly Chowdhury and Tamalika Karmakar play other lead roles.
The cast also includes Aminul Haque, Sazzad Saju, Ruhul Amin, Quamrul Hasan, Monir Zaman, Mitali, Amanul Haque Helal and Mannan Heera.
Foyez Zaheer designed the set and props while Thandu Raihan was in charge of lights.