Theatre actor Sagnik Sinha turns director with a Manoj Mitra classic

‘Chalo, Raja Se Miley’ is opening at the ‘Natak Nama — A celebration of Hindustani Theatre’ festival in Bengaluru this weekend

Sagnik Sinha; a scene from the play

By Reema Gowalla

Known for his work in plays like ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, ‘Ek Sunehra Bageecha’, ‘Schweyk, The Warrior’ and ‘Crossing to Talikota’, actor Sagnik Sinha is making his directorial debut with an adaptation of acclaimed Bengali playwright Manoj Mitra’s piece ‘Rajdarshan’.

“He has been a great inspiration to me, and I couldn’t have asked for a better script to embark on my directorial journey,” says Sagnik, who is opening his satire ‘Chalo, Raja Se Miley’ at the ‘Natak Nama — A celebration of Hindustani Theatre’ festival in Bengaluru’s Alliance Française this weekend. A Forum-Three Theatre production, the 2-hour-long piece is described as a “tale of the divine, the absurd and the divinely absurd”, complete with elements of comedy and tragedy.

The narrative follows the life of the last king of the Nanda dynasty that ruled northern India during the 4th and 5th Century. Suffering from a seemingly incurable disease, the ‘tyrant’ king is on his deathbed, while forces within the royal court are already conspiring to lay claim to the throne. The story focuses on what unfolds in the interim. “This socio-political drama might be centered on a bygone era, but it holds a mirror to the world we are living in today. The historical context is used to draw our attention to the class and caste divide; the power struggle; and the corruption we see in contemporary times. To be precise, the play is just as relevant now as it was 40 years ago when Manoj Mitra wrote it,” says the director.

So, was helming a play always on his mind? “Acting is what I love doing, but I must admit that the traits of directing a play have also fascinated me time and again. I have previously worked with theatre gurus like Mathura Kalauny, Zafer Mohiuddin, Arjun Sajnani and Chanakya Vyas. Apart from acting on stage, I have also assisted many in bringing out a play — be it as an assistant director, running errands for collecting props or working on other logistics. That said, directing a full-fledged play for the first time, amid the restrictions of a pandemic, will remain a special experience for me, paving a new path in theatre career,” says Sagnik, who is also an engineer.

Chalo, Raja Se Miley’ is translated by Harshal Dwivedi, while the music for the play is composed by Madhurima Gupta and the choreography is done by Reetesh Ranjan. The ensemble cast includes actors Arun Kumar, Amit Kalra, Victor Mukherjee, Jatin Thaman, Shakti Deora, Kaninika Chakravarty, Aman Jitani, Nitesh Varma, Amit Agarwal, Madhav Mohan, Joy Bhadra, Neha Mohanty, Sheetal Sahu, Abul Nazar and Tania Thomas.

Watch the play at Alliance Française de Bangalore on December 4 (at 7 pm) and at Ranga Shankara on December 10 (at 7.30 pm). You can book your tickets here.

The play is an adaptation of playwright Manoj Mitra’s ‘Rajdarshan’

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