India Foundation for the Arts today presented “Antaryatra” (“The Journey Within the Self”), directed and performed by Usha Ganguli, at Ranga Shankara.
The play was a self-referential one; Usha has led the theatre group, “Rangakarmee”, for about 25 years now. She spoke of her experiences as an actress (sorry, actor is the pc word to use, but here, the word has a specific gender meaning!)…and of her journey from the very first nervous day at the theatre, through the various roles she has enacted, as well as the many women she had come into contact with…all of which has shaped her life. As she said, “If I had learnt it in a school, I would not have learnt so much, or been moulded so much…”
Usha slipped in and out of the sutradhar’s part, and in and out of the characters of either the women in the plays, or the women in her life, effortlessly. Her mobile face expressed every emotion beautifully; that mobility allowed me to gloss over the couple of occasions when she fluffed her lines (and surely it must be a very difficult task to sustain a monologue for 75 minutes non-stop!).
The dramatization opened with memories of Kolkata…and being a Kolkata-childhood person myself, I empathized perfectly. Her training in classical dance informed her movements on stage, and they were fluid and graceful, and it was a delight to watch her for this reason alone, if not for her emoting!