Updated: Mar 19, 2020
Trimukhi Platform’s (A Non-profit organization in Kolkata working towards aligning social work, artistic creations and theoretical research) endeavor to give a chance to the enterprising kids of the Santhal village to showcase their knack of performing arts as Bachchader Experimentum deserves merit not because it is an effort to restore a tribal talent for the contemporary audience but because it is a testimony that rural artists have a natural propensity towards theater which conquers the trained modern actors of today. Moreover, it is also a proof that children are the apt means of conveying some of the most profound philosophical doctrines which many scholars fail to disseminate even with their erudite learning.
Lights, camera and action are the three integral vocabulary words that define contemporary entertainment industry categorized by the advanced technical amenities which initiate many actors into the field of acting in films and theater. We have the awesome acting courses in the equally aggrandized schools of drama/cinema etc., which claim to produce countless successful artists. It cannot be denied that such institutions have impressively molded many untrained as well as adroit aspiring actors and film and theater practitioners in a way that their flair for the realm of entertainment seems the most suitable vocation for them in front of us.
Trimukhi platform’s Bachchader Experimentum is an effortless effort made in the direction of not only relaxing the anxiety about systematically coherent and cohesive acting demanded of the contemporary actors but also proving to the world that truthful performance often cannot only be calculated according to the stipulated rules. The Bachchas or children of a rustic community are the heroes of this representation and obviously they are apparently untrained as far as sagacious acting or performance is concerned. It is obvious from their work that they may have been guided by the director monitoring them for the show, but they are ostensibly raw presenters. However, it is this untrained performance of the Bachchas which draws our attention to the need of innocence in the profession of acting and performing that may save us from becoming susceptible to egoism and eventually lead to our tragic fall.
The actors often mar the charm of their acting when they project their scholarship is what I personally feel. This is in fact where prominently many of the most intellectual and camera savvy actors fail to create the experiential reality required in the performance. They many a times cannot go beyond something which we may call either ham acting or plunging into needless gimmicks to attract the audience as we often see in the glamour world of entertainment where excessive violence and sex become the staple means of respite for those that wish to run their scripts at the box office.
Trimukhi Platform’s experimentum gives a lesson to such meaningless endeavors that performing arts is not a means of minting money at any cost but is a way towards achieving the aim of true performance i.e. the genuine audience appeal which only comes when the actors stop being “image conscious” and start a more “imageless” quest of the image that they are portraying or wish to portray in front of us.
The Bachchas are evidently without a systematized acting script, coded scriptures of the performance they need to deliver and yet they are so impressive in what they do because they are inspirational in their own right. They inspire as they teach us the way of life without perhaps realizing the deep message they present in front of us. It is their unconscious presentation that does what many a savant artists are unable to do; illumine us regarding the ultimate truth of life.
The performance is I feel a journey, towards transcendence of the worldly and reaching the fathomless world of the ethereal which initiates from the inseparable union of the human with the earth. The sand in which a girl child plays at the very onset symbolizes the panchabhoota tatva the five elements which this world of matter is made of and in which it will finally unite. Furthermore, the innocent girl Pini’s narration of some of the most crucial experiences of her life are metaphoric of the self introspection necessary in order to arrive at a realization of the self. Pini only talks about herself. She does not care about her looks, body language, and appearance but only holds the microphone adroitly in her hand and grabs the one chance she gets of narrating her story. Telling a tale is the primary motif in the life of many but making the tale the means to reach a destination is what Pini preaches us without evidently dictating or becoming didactic. This story is of the very small accounts that take place in her daily life and these reiterated through the means of carefree dancing and singing as well as consuming perhaps her regular drink, Pini wins our hearts. No rehearsed recital, it is pure natural rendition on the stage; free and yet organized which impresses us as we are convinced that a stage representation requires pure art to sumptuously gratify the spectators. It can easily do without learnt dialogues, practiced theatrical assertions or contemporary amenities which attest a performance’s affinity with modern adroitness of performing or acting. Instead, a rural artist with pristine talent and immaculate sweetness can make a rendition interesting and worth watching because one has the honesty that is mandatory for any performer in order that entertainment goes beyond merely a process of entertaining and earning name, fame and money.
Pini wants nothing from us but love and this affection that we shower on her as we see her makes her a winner. She triumphs on the stage as she believably overshadows professional artistry; a trait that many modern artists boast of having through their rigorous acting training in great acting schools. Pini is not trained in a grand acting school yet she knows how to carry herself in front of the audience without becoming self-conscious that people are watching her. That she is been observed. How many of us can overcome the constant feeling of being under speculation of many? Even when we live, perhaps we cannot completely outdo the fact of being judged by others. The stage becomes a paradigm of life wherein the panopticon model regulates us. We are incessantly anxious about being observed and talked about. But Pini is emancipated. She is not bothered of anything but herself, her narrative. This is where she reaches the pinnacle of perfection in the sense of transcending worldly consciousness and arriving at a point of union between the actor in herself and her art which is a complete surrender of one’s ego that only actors who are realized souls can achieve. This is the heightened state wherein nothing else matters for a performer but only one’s performance and this could be regarded as metaphoric of the stage of spiritual enlightenment wherein the human beings are able to traverse the earthly existence and reach the pinnacle of perfect union with divinity. She successfully retains touch with the beginning of the performance wherein we see a playful child fidgeting with the mud on the earth signifying the panchabhoota from where one arrives and where one finally merges into after completing the final journey of life. Signifying the same message towards the end, we see some children wearing colored glasses mounting on the tree and after some time descending back to the ground implying that no matter how far you go in your life, finally you would have to come down and therefore, be grounded as your ties with the earth will only lead you towards the ultimate goal or redemption i.e. moksha which is the abode of peace. Therefore, when we see the boys and girls with lamps in their hands, we are perhaps given a message that it is important to illumine our conscience symbolized by the light against the dark backdrop which personifies the leading light amidst the encircling gloom.
I would say, for me as a theater critic, this is how the entire performance has had a sublime effect. This is indeed my subjective interpretation of the representation. However, I feel, there cannot be a better example than Bachchader Experimentum to show that innocence meets excellence.