Boma- A Fiction: Live space redefined in Bengali Theater

Posted by Kaahon Desk On June 13, 2015

Audiences are always excited and attracted to experience new inventions in visual entertainment. They are curious and anxious to know what novelty any visual medium is about to display for them. Audiences are now very familiar with the mechanical reproduction of reality. India occupies a very significant position among the film producing industries of the world. Thus film and its images are part of the everyday lifestyle and also of the memories of each and every Indian citizen. A new way of storytelling might make them curious but they do not feel the thrill of experiencing a completely new invention in entertainment. Capturing reality with a camera has been so much accessible for Indian citizens that they do not feel the thrill to experience their much known reality in another time. The excitement and thrill of experiencing an actuality can be felt again in a completely different medium where audiences accumulate to experience a live performance, which will be true for that moment and at that particular space. It seems that the present theater directors of Bengal are consciously trying to attract audiences by offering them a platter much similar to the Indian Thali system available in Indian restaurants, where they are offered with a slice of momentary lived experience, another slice of other visual mediums, and another slice of aesthetic illusion. Thus the audiences won’t be deprived of the magic of direct communication which happens only in live performances but they too will be shocked to experience their much known, much accepted, much loved images that they have been viewing in cinema television, smart phones! The Theaters been produced in recent Bengal stage seems to deploy this theory of attraction where the audiences are offered a new viewers’ position where they will not have to shed off their practice of viewing spectacle and yet deriving the pleasure of discourse-theater but can experience the both at the same time.

It is better to explain the above with a reference. If we consider the latest production by Shri Bratya Basu, “BOMA- A Fiction” we can find a reference to the above context. The sound design could be identified as the first spectacle. Two big speakers amplified a music score. When the lights went off, and the exploded sound came in, the audiences were sure to get engrossed in a thrill of experiencing something new, the thrill for which people are attracted towards amusement parks. The sound design was familiar as the score could match in one way or the other with those being used in television recently. Audiences are thus barely bothered to figure out whether at all the design could relate to the either content, form, time reference of the play. Who will find time to analyze the comment on history made by the playwright as all were so been moved away with the beautiful illusion being created on stage with extensive smoke. Audiences had gathered to the hall for an intellectual stimulation. They were been stimulated as the content of the play was on history, religion; sufficient for the urban intellectual theater audiences to think upon. In addition to that they were too excited to find real rain on stage. Audiences know that artificial rain is being created in cinema but the same technique is now produced on stage is a novelty with which they are shocked and thrilled. The best of animated films is not alien to Bengal audiences. Even then the same audiences are awed with poor animated images projected on stage, used as a tool for informing in “Boma-A fiction”. Animation used on stage is something new and this novelty attracts audience’s attention.

Theater is a different discourse out of other visual entertainment mediums. Its aesthetic and credibility to be a work of art cannot depend on how far it can replicate reality. The language of communication used in theater can change when other visual mediums, and all other forms of communication converse and converge among themselves and a new aesthetic is been born. ‘Boma: A Fiction’ seemed to fail at that attempt. Its theatrical form was just a conglomeration of visual experiments consciously attempted to shock and attract viewership but failed to become a novel theatrical form through it.  This review was for how “Boma-A Fiction” wanted to say, what it wanted to say can be discussed elaborately later if the play’s success is based on it.

Srijayee Bhattacharjee

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