A musical portrayal of village life
A dance drama based on the songs of Rudra Barua was recently held at Rabindra Bhavan. Organized by Mitali Kala Kendra, the play Ekhon Gaor Chobi was a soothing musical journey exploring the various facets of day-to-day life in villages. The play was directed by noted Assamese danseuse Gorima Hazarika.
The plot of the dance drama was based on the increasing western influences in the villages of Assam and the resistance of the villagers towards these foreign cultural forms. Ekhon Gaor Chobi depicts how the villagers try hard to keep intact their rich traditions and culture. Though at times the villagers are prone to succumb to the effects of these new cultures, as shown by how a group of youngsters manage to lure the nature-loving village folks to alcohol and drugs, the play depicts how they ultimately realise their mistake and bound back by resisting the temptations.
If dance stole the show, the music was no less. Complimented by the use of a range of traditional music instruments, the audience at Rabindra Bhavan managed to live forty minutes of village life to the full. The music director of the drama Anupam Chowdhury had done extensive research and chosen songs from Rudra Baruah’s collection that supports the drama while maintaining the integrity of Baruah’s work. “Rudra Baruah’s songs are mostly about nature. I have used folk instruments like nagara (traditional drums mainly used in temples), doba (a type of traditional drums ), bhur taal , (a folk instrument) and others. Besides Bihu songs, there were also elements of folk songs like naam, borgeet and others,” said Choudhury.
The play kicked off with a rendition of Rudra Barua’s famous song ‘Barixare akaxote meghe guru gajile, haluwa-xajuwa gaat deudhani lagile ’. Supported by the matka, dhak, dagar and other musical instruments, the number provided the perfect portrayal of the joy and happiness of the villagers at the outbreak of the first burst of rains. The second number helped maintain the feel-good factor. With a beautiful medley of both the traditional and western drums, this dance had elements of the different folk dances of the region. “We have used various folk dance forms like Tiwa, Boro, Karbi, Bihu and others in the entire dance drama,” said dancer Tanmanna Choudhury.
The director weaves a beautiful tapestry of village life through music, chronicling the day-to-day life as the villagers wait for the rains, their joy at the first burst, their hopes as they move about their fields planting saplings and the manner in which they rejoice. And when we are talking about representing the various tribes and communities of the State, can a play like this be compliment without Bihu – the epitome of all fertility rituals of the various communities of the Northeast?
Talking about the play, the director Garima Hazarika says, “I have built the concept of the drama on village life that we find in Rudra Baruah’s songs. The message behind the drama is not to succumb to western culture but keep intact the integrity of our own culture. The songs of Baruah bring to our mind the image of a beautiful village life and I am trying to bring that on stage through this drama.” The director had also managed to weave in a bit of naam praxanga in the entire play.
Meanwhile, Roja – another dance drama directed by Gorima Hazarika – was also staged at Rabindra Bhavan the same day. A children’s drama, Roja had around twenty children of various age groups playing the part of different animals like rabbits, lions, peacocks, monkeys and others. Based on the theme ‘united we stand, divided we fall’, Roja was enjoyed by the young and the young at heart alike.