The bold and energetic Dilip Chakraborty is best remembered for his unparalleled portrayal of Ekalabya, the tragic hero of Masum Reza's stage play “Nityapuran”. The Desh Natok production was first brought to life 18 years ago, and was staged 56 times until 2004. The actor unexpectedly breathed his last five years ago, leaving behind performances that made an unforgettable impression on the audience. However, this evening will be a time for creating something new from the old, as Desh Natok revives “Nityapuran” in Dilip's memory after 14 years at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy's Experimental Theatre Hall at 7pm. The biggest element of surprise remains however, as to who will fill the shoes of Ekalabya.
Playwright and director Masum Reza informed The Daily Star that only Bonna Mirza will be present from the original casting line-up today and tomorrow (November 10-11). The popular actress will reprise her role of Draupadi, and the performer for Ekalabya will be announced before curtains rise before the show.
“It is hard to say how I feel right now. I miss Dilip Chakraborty dearly, and he will be on all our minds tomorrow,” said Bonna Mirza.
Masum Reza also revealed that there will be some differences from the prior performances. “There will be some changes in choreography, props, and costumes, but the story is the same as ever. Much of the hype was due to the late Dilip Chakraborty's performance, so there is also a new expectation here,” he said.
“Nityapuran”, or “The Eternal Meeting”, is a tale of woe about a failed hero. Ekalabya (or Eklavya) aspires to study archery under the gurukul of Guru Drona, who rejects him. To Drona's ire, Ekalabya becomes a commendable archer, which compels the Guru to ask for his thumb as a sacrifice. The seven characters featured in the play are from The Mahabharata, but the plot is a new take on the epic narrative.
“In the usual reading of The Mahabharata, Arjun or Karna are regarded as heroes in terms of their might and prominence, but Ekalabya stood out as the better and more real hero to me. He wasn't very technical, and that is why he failed to protect himself in the end,” stated Masum Reza.