A tribute to Humayun Azad

Rimla Chowdhury writes about the Teerondaj Theatre Group’s production ‘Anaytihashik’
The Teerondaj Theatre Group staged a unique play called ‘Anaytihashik’ on September 8 that was based on the late playwright Humayun Azad’s novels ‘Pak Shar Jomin Shad Baad’ and ‘Amar Obisshash’, written by Shaheen Reza Russel and directed by Dipok Shumon. The play debuted at the Experimental Theatre Hall of the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, and tells the story of the drastic changes that takes place in the life of a leftist rebel, whose life turns decadent as he becomes the leader of an extremist party.

However, when he falls in love with a Hindu girl, who was actually brought to him for his personal pleasure becomes a constant reminder of the believes he has abandoned and his previous life by his old friends from his rebel days. His party membership becomes a cause for inner turmoil that continues to haunt him and eventually turns him back to his primary principles. As a result, the powers that be turn intolerant of his sudden changes in direction and they manipulate his right hand man’s envy to end his life. The cast included Arup, Sabbir, Jahid, Manosh, Mitu, Kazi Rakib, Taposh, Rubel, Nilu, Jannat, Shakila, Toukir, Raaj, Tomal, Rafiq, Poritosh, Shanta, Nowshad, Sujon and Russel and was staged in honour of the life and works of the late activist and writer Humayun Azad. The director stated that Azad’s work dealt with the prevention of extremism and terrorism at its root so the play highlighted these aspects. The evening’s special guests were Latifa Kohinur, the wife of the late playwright and his children, as well as Dr. Dalem Barman, the president of the Teerondaj Theatre Group, Mannan Hira, the Communist Party of Bangladesh president Manzurul Ahsan Khan, Afsana Mimi, Subhashis Sinha and the poet Nirmalendu Goon. At the end of the play, Latifa Kohinur extended her gratitude to the troupe for keeping alive the memory of the author, even after all these years of silence following his death. She stated that she was delighted to see how the homage to her late husband, whose life was dedicated against the spread of extremism. Her one observation was that the play comprised excessive noise that was in her views distracting and also advised that the tone perhaps needed to be simplified in order to reach a larger audience.

The guest director Dipok Shumon expressed a slight disappointment with the cast, who had been far more effective during the rehearsals. He further added that Humayun Azad as a man was too big a canvas for him to comment on, in his view he was a rebel who dug deep for the truth from within the perceived truth that he presented for everyone to see clearly. According to the director, his principles are still applicable in our world today. His legacy to us is to encourage people to question everything. Mannan Hira commented that extremism hinders the development and progress of a nation and it must be opposed. He further stated that the nature of the play is such that it needs to be dealt with caution as one of the main characters is a Jihadi leader who started out as a leftist activist, this presented in the wrong way can actually hinder future movements. The president of Teerondaj Dr. Dalem Barman in his speech recalled how he had worked closely with Azad, who was always ready to protest against injustice and speak out the truth. The CPB’s president commented that Humayun Azad always highlighted any threat to the state and was therefore disliked by many because of his subversive writings. Azad’s works have been successful in portraying the nation’s weakness and some of the characteristics that take form in destructive elements and are still present amongst us. In conclusion he stated that the play must be made accessible for all, not just intellectuals.

The troupe plans to formally inaugurate the play on a national scale and perhaps even take it to Kolkata.


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