A ghost note at the right time
- It is no secret that Nagarkoti, the author of Jhyalincha, forges his own path. In his work, the real collides with the unreal, the absurd overlaps with the fabulous
Nov 11, 2017-Kathmandu’s theatre scene is currently undergoing an important transition. In years after the dissolution of the only pravately-owned theatre house, Gurukul, the Valley has seen a sizeable rise in theatrical activities; as a total of five theatre houses began operations in a quick succession. But despite the burgeoning theatre culture, there is a dearth of original plays that reflect the transitional time we are going through. Several adaptations of foreign plays have been done, which successfully imbue the sourse text with a Nepali flavour, but it does not tug at the human condition as experienced by Nepalis.
Which is why, whenever an original play hits the theatre, regular theatre goers are excited. The play Jhyalincha, currently ongoing at Mandala Theatre in Anamnagar is one such instance of joy. The play, based on a ‘Fakir Fiction’ story by Kumar Nagarkoti, was first staged in August this year, to coincide with the International Day of the Disappeared. It’s hard to imagine the emotional torment that the families of the disappeared have to endure. The Commission on the Investigation on Enforced Disappearance Persons (CIEDP) was formed in 2014 but the transitional body “has not managed to undertake much work, besides collecting around 63,000 complaints from conflict victims,” as a recent Kathmandu Post editorial notes.
So how is this issue, serious as it is, to be treated in theatre, which is often called the mirror of the society?
It is no secret that Nagarkoti, the author of Jhyalincha, forges his own path. In his work, the real collides with the unreal, the absurd overlaps with the fabulous. In a 2014 interview, Kumar Nagarkoti said, “Many other writers write about society and the plight of the common folk. I do not want to be a part of that group. Let me be myself.”
Jhyalincha, the play, tells a story within a story. In the totality of its theatrical experience, Jhyalincha manages to engage for the most part, owing largely to the oddity and novelty of its narration, and the excellent light designs and live music that accompany it.
Directed by Dayahang Rai, the play starts as an anchor (played by Ranjana Oli) introduces the “beloved writer in town” Hasabira, who has just published a new novel titled Jhyalincha–which translates as dragonfly. A ceremony is organised to discuss the book, but Hasabira (played by Bijaya Baral), the chainsmoking, outspoken author, doesn’t want to go into the theme or the meaning of the book.
Quickly though, as the author goes back into recounting how he came across the idea about the book, the surreal creeps in. One day, the author tells us, during the premiere of the film Kalo Pothi, which he went to with his wife, the director of the film, Min Bham, told him that he once spotted the author along with a girl in a pink dress. What Bham tells him is enough to send the author’s marital relationship into topsy-turvy. As the author revisits the background of the book further, he tells that the lead character of the book was based on a pink-coloured dragonfly, the Jhyalincha, he once spotted in his garden, which was the ghost of a disappeared lady he once saw in a dream. How the lady was forcibly killed and buried during the war is projected for us to see.
The colour pink plays a significant role in the play from early on—the colour of the dragonfly and the dress the murdered woman wore during her killing. The ghost of both of which haunts the author.
When I walked out of the theatre, I did so with a certain emptiness. The kind of emptiness one feels when witnessing the powerful rise by stepping on the aspirations of the meek. Jyalincha instills a hunger for such original plays that manages to mirror the society we live in. If only to revive that hunger, I recommend that you go watch it.
Published: 11-11-2017 08:29