Monday, 12 September 2011

Scholar’s film on Tagore and Bishnupriya Manipuri

Special Correspondent

SILCHAR, Sept 11: The visit of Rabindranath Tagore to Sylhet was a historical event which produced a long-lasting impulse on his creative endeavour. It was November 6, 1919 when the great poet, dramatist and novelist visited the Bishnupriya Manipuri village of Machimpur, not far away from the town situated on the bank of river Surma. The Bishnupriya Manipuris celebrated his Nobel Award by felicitating him and according him tumultuous ovation. Manipuri dances were performed to make the visit eventful and memorable, recalled Prof. Dr. Swapan Saha, who has scripted a film on Tagore and Bishnupriya Manipuri connection on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary under the title Vanishing Memories.

Dr Saha said Rabindra Nath was so impressed after witnessing the dance composition, the Gostha Lila, that he decided to adopt this dance form to his dance drama. It was the subtlety and rhythm of the dance which stirred him. He was introduced to the exponent of this dance form Guru Nileshwar Mukherjee and Rabindranath decided to bring him to Shantiniketan. While addressing the students of Sylhet MC College, Rabindranath spoke about his experiences about Bishnupriya Manipuris and their art form.

Guru Nileshwar Mukherjee was at Shantiniketan as a Manipuri dance teacher. With his help, Rabindranath Tagore introduced Manipuri dance form in his drama Chitrangada. It was actually his earlier composition of 1892, modified with Manipuri dance in 1936. The story of Chitrangada, pointed out Dr. Saha, is all about our great epic Mahabharat. The king and the queen of Manipur pray for a son but get a daughter Chitrangada. She was brought up as a son who became a warrior princes.

Chitrangada falls in love with Arjuna, the protagonist of the epic. Arjuna refuses her offer of marriage on ground of vowed celibacy. But later on, Arjuna wants to marry her on her own terms.

The simple and bold episode of Mahabharat was transformed by Rabindranath into a drama with lyrical rapture and psychological insight. It is a lyrical dance drama a story of love and war. Tagore has another work ‘Bhanusingher Padavali’ which was reshaped in the form of Manipuri dance. Dr. Saha said Rabindranath Tagore provides a vital link towards the cultural revivalism of the Bishnupriya Manipuri people.

Courtesy: The Sentinel
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