A Bengali Play on the Scientific Ethics of Jagadish Chandra Bose

Bookmark (0)
ClosePlease login

No account yet? Register

Aami Jagadish Bengali play

Who remembers Jagadish Chandra Bose? Perhaps only scientists involved in advanced research in the sciences he had specialized in. School going children might be familiar only with his name and not the reasons why he is so revered by the scientific community. But is it, really? The Bengali play Aami Jagadish staged at the Academy of Fine Arts on 26th December tries to address these questions. It is produced by New Jersey based theater group ECTA Inc., a non-profit theater company dedicated to producing quality theater for the community. Its mission is to tell their stories through theater and other performing arts.

In an age dominated by political and fantastic plays, Aami Jagadish happily falls back on a piece of scientific history to narrate a tale that upholds ethical and human values above commercial preferences. 

The play, structured conventionally as a proscenium presentation, defines itself as placed with the historical genre of Science perceived, understood and interpreted in contemporary reality through a passionate scientist who is bent on proving that plants can communicate with each other and also with human beings. His colleagues and superiors are not convinced in funding his research without proof that his experiments will be profitable to the research organization. But Dr. Nirup Biswas, who practically worships Bose like his God, is adamant about going ahead. 

Bengali play on A J C Bose

It is a single-set play where the action is concentric within the space of Dr. Biswas’s laboratory spilling over with green plants, scientific apparatus and other paraphernalia and a beautiful antique chair on a corner of the stage where Jagadish Bose comes and sits musing over Dr. Biswas’ research. The art direction with a back wall covered with creepers flowing down, is superb to say the least as it establishes the relationship between plants and people, which  forms the fulcrum of the play. The same goes for the lighting. It is used to establish the changing moods of the play and also, the different hours of the day and night. The changes in scene are effected simply by immersing the stage in complete darkness. The sound design is good too which demands a great deal as it deals with plants and Nature and scientists who keep working on the “mindscape” of plants. 

Dr. Nirup Biswas strongly believes that understanding plants is the only way to save our planet. Plants survived on this planet for millions of years while other species failed to make it through similar disasters.  He believes we must find ways to communicate with plants. Only then we might be able to survive the impending disaster. The other characters like the Minister of Forests and Tanima, an electrical engineer, are used to further the principal dilemma of the play– should science be sacrificed for commercial gains? 

The principal thrust of the play is around its title Aami Jagadish (I, Jagadish) which creates a puzzle in the minds of the audience and among the other characters except Dr. Biswas. He insists that Dr. Jagadish Bose actually appears at night and advises him not just about his research but also on the values of humanity and science that should never be compromised at the altar of commerce. He also advises Biswas to pay more attention to his neglected wife and not depend on funding that might lead to some form of compromise or another. Dr. Biswas is mesmerized but his colleagues are not.

Dr. Nirup Biswas strongly believes that understanding plants is the only way to save our planet. Plants survived on this planet for millions of years while other species failed to make it through similar disasters. He believes we must find ways to communicate with plants. Only then we might be able to survive the impending disaster.

Does Jagadish Bose appear in Dr. Biswas’ dreams? Is it an apparition or a figment of Dr. Biswas’ imagination? Jagadish Bose also seems to have left behind a handkerchief embroidered by Lady Abala Bose. If he left a handkerchief behind, how can he be a ghost? This is one question the play leaves us to keep guessing. Dr. Saha and Mr. Agarwal are both convinced that Dr. Biswas is really going crazy. Is he? Or does such dying passion to prove a scientific reality for the benefit of the larger mankind can sometimes make a person go mad? 

The confusing answers are given towards the play’s closing segments where the other characters gather at one place both worried about Dr. Biswas’ mental state and the uncertain results of his research. But the twist comes too rapidly without permitting the audience to hold its breath which tends to touch it with some melodrama. Kudos to director Soumendu Bhattacharya for creating such a wonderful performing experience and also, equally, to the playwright, Sudipta Bhawmik for creating a play dedicated to the significance of human values through the eyes of Jagadish Chandra Bose and Dr. Biswas. 

The acting honors are distributed equally among all the actors with top marks to Tusharmouli Mukherjee the actor who portrays Jagadish Chandra Bose and also, the one who plays Dr. Biswas with great agility, passion, anger, frustration and the fear of failing all rolled into one. The sudden metamorphosis of Rajeev Agarwal the young businessman suggests that values can be transformed through good examples.  Antara Mukherjee’s Tanima is good but her voice is just too shrill and is sometimes hurting to the ears. 

Who is the “aami” in this play? Let the audience decide.

Images courtesy: Koushik Bhowal.

Bookmark (0)
ClosePlease login

No account yet? Register

Tags

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

SUBSCRIBE TO NEWSLETTER

Submit Your Content

Member Login