1This year 2015AD, instead of focusing my camera on the usual morning bonanza of living colours of Basanta Utsava, I decided to get a close glimpse of the stage décor for the evening program held at Ashrama Ground by Sangit Bhavana. Actually my intention was to attempt some kind of documentation on one of the aspects of Basanta Utsava. Thankfully, Mr Sudhiranjan Mukherjee, the stage director of Basanta Utsava evening for quite some years now, happen to be known to me, and I decided to pester him right from pre Basanta Utsava days, to which he obliged. The overall effect appears to be very interesting (actually it is for you to judge!) and I greatly enjoyed the whole experience, including the thought process leading to the stage décor, thanks to Sudhiranjanda. Hopefully you will also enjoy the experience. In this endeavour, naturally text will have much less importance, so photographic documentation will be the main idea behind the presentation.
23This year the consorted play ‘Basanta’ was staged, and as per idea the pain of the transition from Spring to Summer was the key theme. For some time now Sudhiranjan Mukherjee, faculty Siksha Satra, is exploring flora and fauna of Santiniketan for design purposes and ‘Palash’ is currently under study. In fact a more elaborate exhibition from ‘Palash to Design’ is slated at Rabindra Bhavana museum from about middle of March 2015. I was in fact quite intrigued to just have a glimpse of idea about the rich possibilities in exploring design patterns, specially the possibilities the flower Palash can offer. Interestingly mathematical interpretations of such designs under ‘Study of Fractals, Dynamic Systems and Chaos’ is now an emerging area in Science offering huge possibilities for scientific exploration as well.
456Sudhiranjanda was exploring the possible design patterns arising out of Palash, and decided to execute the idea experimentally for the stage décor for Basanta Utsava 2015 in much simplified form. The study he went through was fairly interesting to follow. I formed some idea on how artists build upon a concept around their ideas.
78910The unfolding of patterns created out of Palash were clearly visible. I was particularly attracted to the dynamism of the flows and really liked the sketch of the dancer with Palash-adorned garlands, which cannot be traced anymore in Santiniketan. Use of Palash as decorative flowers at the time of Basanta Utsava now is strictly prohibited to prevent large scale destruction of the flower in nearby areas during this festival at Santiniketan.
111213The patterns created by Palash flower ensembles can be fairly intriguing, in the sense that Palash applies several design patterns to suit its purpose, mostly according to the size of the branch and optimization of design structure to capture maximum amount of sunlight. That is the normal procedure with most of the trees; but Palash offers wide varieties of design arrangements, as will be apparent to you by observing the actual photographs of Palash flowers. Palash is in fact quite an intelligent tree in the sense that it can manipulate the design structures according to its need; whereas most of the plants only adhere to a single design pattern in their floral arrangements.
14151617On Sunday, 1 March 2015, I had a trip to Sudhiranjanda’s house to get some idea about the stage décor. The decorative panels were spread all over the floor, with the artist engrossed over them. The formats were simplified, but fairly interesting at the same time. To adhere to Santiniketan style of design created by stalwarts like Nandalal Bose, Suren Kar, Gouri Bhanja and Jamuna Sen and trying to explore new expressions somewhat within the old format is becoming a difficult task for present day artists of Santiniketan. Though the think tank of Sangit Bhavana is keen to re-create the old ambiance in stage décor; the problem is sufficient and categorical photographical documentation of stage décor is almost nonexistent, even in archives of Rabindra Bhavana. The general impression is photographic documentation of stage décor was not taken up too seriously at the time of Rabindranath Tagore and immediately thereafter; or the photographic data if exists at all, has never been categorized properly. In this regard I really do not know the utility of this documentation of stage décor at 2015AD; but I know that 50 years (or even 20, to be honest) from now even these will not be available if not documented properly. I wonder if Visva Bharati is interested to document such festivals from various angles just to pass on information to the future generations in Santiniketan; though I think Sangit Bhavana must be having some sort of such collections. Anyway, let us keep focused on delicately expressed endeavours of Sudhiranjanda for the time being!
18In the huge light galore and due to the distance between the stage and the viewers, we usually miss the finer points of stage décor and the dress worn by dancers. This might be one reason why the dress of the performers and the stage décor often get unnoticed. But on careful observation both are interesting to watch, and certainly worth documentation. Next year, if permitted, I might try to document the dress and make up of performers in the evening dance drama.
192021I was a casual visitor to Basanta Utsava 2015 morning, as I was due to land up at the stage at around 3 PM on the day of Basanta Utsava for capturing the stage décor part. The morning had by then settled into a quiet but fleeting afternoon, Sudhiranjan Mukherjee was busy at work. Sudhiranjanda is a very soft spoken and unassuming personality at the surface; but fairly dynamic when it comes to work, more about him sometime later. Let us track the photographs, which were rather tough to snap because of the large dimensions of the stage, and that from 4PM onwards moving about the stage arena became quite a complex proposition in presence of re-instated bamboo barriers!
222324The patterns used by Sudhiranjanda were fairly suggestive; I heard from him that Katihar-i stitched decorative pieces have traditionally remained favourite in Santiniketan as they were used extensively by earlier stalwarts like Nandalal Bose and Suren Kar.
252627 Looking from different angles, the camera being unable to get a panoramic view, the stage looked interesting. For the viewer, due to size and length between the spectators and the stage, either it is impossible to get the full view of the stage from near; or the details get drastically hazed out from a distance with a panoramic view. The size and length factor still remains technically unresolved for an open air stage in Basanta Utsava. Such a stage decoration in an auditorium would have certainly appeared distinguishingly brilliant. I personally feel, in occasions like Basanta Utsava, the dimension of the stage has changed hugely from the times of Rabindranath Tagore and hence there should be some real modifications in styles with perhaps keeping the spirit of design similar, from the stage décor used in earlier times in Santiniketan; maybe a point to ponder for Sudhiranjanda in coming days.
28293031The natural light was fading out soon; around 5.30PM it was the time for testing the sound and light systems. I searched for a final glimpse of the essence of the stage decoration tuned in with the flower ‘Palash’ for the presentation ‘Basanta’ by Visva Bharati in the evening.
32333435Let us now watch the stage along with the performers through the eyes of Sudhiranjan Mukherjee. Incredibly, this year due to internal disturbances in Visva Bharati the process of staging Basanta Utsava got delayed to a great extent, the stage was conceived within a week and Visva Bharati managed to upstage Basanta Utsava right from the morning programs barely with a weeklong preparation both participation and administration wise. It was very nice to discover the ever resilient Visva Bharati, just as always! I am extremely thankful to my young friend, Indrajit Roy, a professional photographer, to happily contribute the snap shots of the stage along with the performers in the evening for this blog article. I am also naturally grateful to Mr Sudhiranjan Mukherjee, for allowing me to go for a rather unprofessional documentation of stage décor Basanta Utsava 2015 at Santiniketan.
Thank you,

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  1. Shubhashis Mitra says:

    Pritha Ray
    Ashdharan.. ami jato dekhi totoi mugdho hoye jai. Thank You Sukulda for sharing. Sudhiranjan da’r sange alap korar opekhhay roilam.

    Bhaswati Bhattacharya
    This is wonderful!

    Bipasha Chatterjee
    I am fascinated by Sudhiranjanda’s work with Palash.

    Saumya Chakrabarti
    Thank you so much for this documentation….may be in twenty years from now such great things would be washed away ..please accept my heartfelt gratitude from a far off cold terrain…..

    Samik Ghosh
    Mugdho hoye gechhi.

    Ratna Saha
    Apurbo! khub bhalo laglo.

    Ratna Mukhopadhyay
    Ahh!! Mon bhore galo.sudhi ranjan da r arekti master piece ar tar sange tomar ei asamanya lekha. Bhobhisyat er muhaphez khana r mahamulya dolil.

    Rupamanjari Biswas
    Buridir kachhe shunechhi onader shomoy Polash chhilo bratyo, gaNda phuler moto ! Keno ta bhalo kore bojhate paren ni oboshho.

    Kanaklata Saha
    Apurbo! dada.

    Sudipto Biswas

    Amit Ray
    Daroon Laglo ! Saving Images !

    Milan Banik
    Ashadharan sharing.

    Diyali Lahiri
    Khub bhalo laglo, Subhashis/ Bhaiya o Sudhi Ranjan.

    Sabujkoli Sen
    Lekhati asadharan. Sudhiranjan sambandhe balar kichchu baki nei .Sampad Santiniketaner

  2. Asadharon lekha.Sudhidar kirti apnar soujanye deshe bideshe chhoriye porlo.palash phul ke je evabe dekha jay ,take de-construct kara jay ta age kakhano keu bhebechhilo?

  3. Shubhashis Mitra says:

    Nilay Mandal
    Apurba lekha Sukul Babur…onar aseem agroho r shantiniketan er nandonik diker proti bhalobasa bare bare prokash pay ei lekha gulote. Aro bhalo lage je nitantoi stage er kichhu shukno documentation noy, borong shilpir moner anach kanach ghure ese tar porichiti ghotano sorbosadharon er kachhe. Ete shilpi sottwar sathe amra kichhuta holeo relate korar chesta korte pari..amar kachhe bishesh kore ei nepothyo bishleshon bheeshon bhabe upokari. Layout ba homework er ja porikkha mulok ankar chhobi gulo dekhlam ta nijerai ek ek ti decor er upadan. palash kolir charpashe pakhir dol- ei chena chhobir alponay rupantor dekhe chokh juroy. Fractional dimension er jerokom chobi chokhe pore, tar songe churanto mil oi palasher dal gulor (kobe je orokom korte parbo tai bhabi )

    Onyo dike stage e puraton diner moto Katihari kajer byabohar o mon kare..tar sathe samanyo alponar proyog diye ekta blend korata gotobar Shyamar somoy tei dekhechhilam, ebaro mon karlo..puro ta mile ekta notun jinish toiri hoy..(r somoy o kon byay hoy )

    Amar khhuuuuub lobh legechhe jeta dekhe seta holo oi neatly drawn uttoriyo gulo…ki je sundor hoyechhe dada.. Khub bhalo laglo ei lekha ti pore..erokom kaj aro pele khub somridhho hobo. Osonkhyo dhonyobad!

    Madhumita Roy
    Bhaia tomar apurbo lekha ar Shudhiranjaner ashadharon kalponar prokash kichhukhaner jonno ek onno jagote niye chole jay jekhane bhabnar anek khorak….shatti shanto ei manushtir kalponao ki shanto o gambhir ar ranger babohar o ki snigdho….Palasher ki apurbo shanto rup…..Bhaiya tomar ei documantationer jonno ar Shudhiranjan ke ei apurbo srishtir janno dhannobad…..

    Shubhashis Mitra
    To be honest, it was very interesting for me to document this, chiefly due to highly creative insight of Sudhi Ranjan Mukherjee, I enjoyed every bit of this. A big Thank You is actually deserved by Sudhiranjanda! Thanks Sudhiranjanda, on my behalf too.

    Alo Roy
    আমি কিন্তু কিছুতেই এই stage কে মনে মনে গ্রহণ করতে পারিনি ! মনে হোয়েছে অসমাপ্ত !
    সুধী কত সুন্দর শোভনসুন্দর পরিবেশ উপোযোগী আন্তরিক চিন্তাভাবনা দিয়ে অক্লান্ত পরিশ্রমে নিষ্ঠায় তার প্রতিভাকে প্রকাশ করেছেন, আমি মুগ্ধ সে কাজ দেখে, শিল্পীর নিঁখত চিন্তা ভাবনা এবং তার প্রকাশের ভঙ্গীতে, কিন্তু তা কি সার্থক ভাবে পরিবেশিত হোলো?

    পিছনে প্রাচীন শিরিষ গাছের অপূর্ব প্রাকৃতিক দৃশ্য, তারই নীচে অপূর্ব বাসন্তী পরিবেশ অনুযায়ী দুটি screen খোঁচা খোঁচা বাঁশের ভেতর দাঁডিয়ে, পিছনে অন্ধকারে পডে রইলো অপূর্ব অঙ্কনটি…….. মনে হোলো কেমন যেন অসমাপ্ত এই stageটি!!
    এর থেকে যদি রাশি রাশি নানা রঙের ওডণা ঝুলিয়ে, এমন কি শিরিষগাছে ও বসন্তী পরিবেশ হোতো ঐ বাঁশগুলো আডাল কোরে কত সুন্দরই না হোতো !! এমন কোরে শিল্পীর শিল্পকলার সম্মান কি আমরা সম্পূর্ণ দিতে পারলাম? সে তো সরকিছুর আডালেই রইলো…… এ অবশ্যই আমার ব্যক্তিগত মতামত, যা তৈরী হয়েছে বিগত গত ৭০টি বসন্তোৎসব দেখার সৌভাগ্যে……!

    Shubhashis Mitra
    Alodi, what I found is that there is not the perfect synchronization between stage decoration and light arrangements and stage construction. The three units worked separately to be honest. A compact planning should have been gone through—on my primary observation observing the setting up of the stage.

    Subhalakshmi B Nandi
    Thanks to Sukul for documenting this so meticulously.Your love for Shantineketan is as evident as is Sudhiranjanda’s passion for his job.Do keep posting,I deeply appreciate and enjoy your blog.Good work keep it up!

    Simontika Deb
    Sukul,tor shiropay aro ekta palok.asadharon protibedon to botei tar cheyeo boro kotha prokriti je sabar cheye shrestho shikhhok seta tor o shilpi Sudhiranjaner jugolbondi uposthaponay aro ekbar promanito holo .chobigulo khub porishkar o sundor tulechen jar camera .

    Sudhi Ranjan Mukherjee
    রবীন্দ্রনাথ তা৺র নাটক ও নৃত্যনাট্যে মঞ্চসজ্জা খুব একটা পছন্দ করতেন না। এ কথা তিনি তা৺র লেখাতেই বলে গেছেন। শান্তিনিকেতনে নন্দলাল বসু অত্যন্ত পরিমিতভাবে নাটকের মঞ্চসজ্জার একটা রূপ তৈরী করেছিলেন। সুরেন কর সেই সময়েই মঞ্চসজ্জায় একটু অন্য ধরণের কাজ করেছিলেন যাতে স্থাপত্যগুণ ছিল বলে আমার মনে হয়। কিন্তু একটা সময়ে সুরেন করের মঞ্চসজ্জা শান্তিনিকেতনে আর দেখা গেল না। রামকিঙ্কর বেজ নাটক ও মঞ্চসজ্জার প্রতি খুব আগ্রহী ছিলেন। শুনেছি “ ভুশন্ডীর মাঠে”, “ওথেলো” এবং গুরুদেবের “মুক্তধারা” র মঞ্চ-পরিকল্পনা নাকি অসাধারণ হয়েছিল। সামান্য কিছু আলোকচিত্র ছাড়া আর সবটাই পুরাতন প্রাক্তনীদের কাছে শোনা কথা। তাও রামকিঙ্করের মঞ্চসজ্জার কাজের একটিও ছবি আজ অবধি দেখতে পাইনি যেটা খুব দুঃখজনক।
    তাই মনে হয় গুরুদেবের সময় বা তার কিছু পর থেকে ও যদি মঞ্চসজ্জা, পোষাক ইত্যাদির ফটোগ্রাফ সংরক্ষণের ব্যবস্থা থাকতো তাহলেও আমরা একটা ধারাবাহিক ইতিহাস হয়তো পেতাম। শুনেছি রামকিঙ্করের মঞ্চ-পরিকল্পনা নাকি একেবারে অন্য ধরণের ছিল। তাই নন্দলাল, সুরেন কর, রামকিঙ্কর ও পর অন্যান্যরা মঞ্চসজ্জার ক্ষেত্রে যে বিভিন্ন ধরণের কাজ করেছেন তা আজকের শান্তিনিকেতনের মানুষদের দেখা খুব দরকার ছিল। যদি ব্যক্তিগতভাবে কারো কাছে এইরকম কোন ছবি থাকে তাহলে তিনি তার প্রতিলিপি সংগ্রহালয়ে জমা দিলে খুবই ভাল হয়।
    শ্রী শুভাশিস মিত্র আমার কাজের প্রতি বেশ কিছুদিন আগে থেকেই আগ্রহী হয়েছিলেন। এইবারের “বসন্ত” র মঞ্চসজ্জার শুরু থেকেই উনি তথ্য সংগ্রহের কাজে নেমে পড়েছিলেন। আমার ও খুব ভাল লেগেছে একসঙ্গে এগোতে। তা৺কে আমার অনেক ধন্যবাদ।
    অনেকের এই কাজ যেভাবে ভাল লেগেছে এবং লিখেছেন সেটাও বেশ প্রেরণাদায়ক।

    Samik Ghosh
    Dey’s Publishers er prokash kora Santidev Ghose er ‘Smriti o Sonchoy’ boitite stage ar poshsker bishoye kichhu ullekh pabe. Boita Subornorekha be Dey’s der dokane paowar kotha noyto Tamaldar kachhe peye jabe.

    Sudhi Ranjan Mukherjee to Samik Ghosh
    Santidev Ghosh er praay sob boi amar kaache ache. “Smriti o Sonchoy ” porte Khub bhalo legeche. E charao onar “Jeebaner dhrubatara” o “Gurudev Rabindranath o Adhunik Bharatiyo Nrityo”……..ei boigulo thekeo anekta jana jaay. Shudhu amar jeta mone hoy je bibhinno somoye nrityonatyer Manchasajja o poshak jodi chabite aro kichu dekha jeto. Jemon “Tasher Desh” er bibhinno somoye abhinoy er costumes o stagecraft er chabi dekhechi. Onyanyo nrityonatyer modhye jemon “SHAPMOCHON”er chabi paina.

    Mohan Singh Khangura
    Retire hobaar por Shanti da 30 bochhor benche chhilen,koi !! visva bharati kaje lagiyechhe on ke ? koto kichhu adhuni jontropati te koto kichhu dhora jeto,nataker dress,porichalona itiyadi…..kono kichhu ree kono record nei.

    Diyali Lahiri
    Amar Chhoto balata anek Guni manusher abadh Songe ketechhe. Nanda Dadur nirdeshe je stage saj poshak hoyeche tateo angsho niyechhi. Suren Jyatha Mashayer nirdesheo nacer doler Songe Sara Bharat ghurechi . Kinkardar utsahe kichhu ta abstract, kichhu ta surreal , kichhu abeg meshano stage Muktodharay jog diyechhi. Tokhon to eto camera hate sobai ghuroto na. Esoberi anek smriti ba chhobi achhe moner modhye Anka . Kintu records ba photographs, chhobi hoyto achhe seta khnuje ber korar sujog holo ekhon Rabi Bitaner snatok der. Aro kato janar bishoy achhe bhateo inspired lage.

    Sudhi Ranjan Mukherjee
    to Gabludi Diyali Lahiri….se sob chabi kothyay rakhlen ? aar deri na kore khnujte lege porun. amader dekhte hobe se sob chabi.

    Diyali Lahiri
    khnujchhi, Sudhi Ranjan, Baper Bari, Shashuri Bari, Desh bidesh, Bari boddo, sob kichur upor effect kore. Amar Dada Borenda Santiniketaner bishesh interested photographer chilen. Tar chole jawar Songe Songe Santiniketaner Anek chhobi hariyechhi. Tao nijer sob baksho patra ghatchhi.

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