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“Raarang” Scores Century

The Santal Resistance earned a significant place in the pages of our history. It was the Santals who confronted the British Raj in 1784. Their attempt to evict colonial rule from the sub-continent paved the way for many forthcoming revolutionary attempts. Santal leaders Shidhu, Kanu, Chand and Bhairab revolted once again in 1855. After the Partition (1947), the Santals supported Ila Mitra to organise the 1950 Nachol Uprising. The aim remained unchanged: economic freedom.

In 2000, Santal leader Alfred Soren sacrificed his life to accomplish the same goal left unachieved by his ancestors in the independent and sovereign Bangladesh. Alfred Soren of Bhimpur village, Naogaon, was killed on August 18, 2000 when he tried to resist the eviction of the indigenous community from their land. The raiders set fire to his house and stabbed him to death.

Based on Soren's story, theatre troupe Aranyak Natyadal brought the play “Raarang” to the stage on September 2, 2004. Written and directed by Mamunur Rashid, the play will have its 100th show today.

“While most shows were held in Dhaka, we've also staged the play for indigenous communities such as Chakma, Garo etc. Wherever we went, we received appreciation from the audience,” said director of the play Mamunur Rashid, also Chief Secretary of Aranyak.

To celebrate the 100th show, Aranyak has arranged a two-day festival at the Experimental Theatre Hall, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. The festival takes place today and tomorrow.

Though the play is inspired by the tragic end of Alfred Soren, in a greater sense, it zooms in on the collective struggles of the Santal community.

“Raarang”-- a Santal word meaning battle cry-- depicts the strife of the impoverished Santals against oppression imposed by the dominating Bengalis.

Mamunur Rashid, Chanchal Chowdhury, AKM Hasan, Shamim Zaman, Tamalika Karmakar and Joyraj along with talented young actors Mitali Das, Deepak Suman and Shamima Shawkat enact important roles in the play.

Faiz Zahir did the light designing, while Parimal Majumdar did the music using elements from traditional Santali music.

Apart from the shows, a seminar featuring different aspects of Santali lifestyle will be held at the venue on the second day.

Source: Saturday, January 22, 2011 :http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=170955

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