Written by: Sangram Guha
Directed by: Sangram Guha
Music: Yanni, Philip Glass and Kankan Bhattacharjee
Set: Sampa Sen
Light: Uttiya Jana
Costume Design: Sampa Sen
Sound: Bapi Dasgupta
Make up: Md. Ali
First show on : December 18, 2010 at Rabindra Sadan, Kolkata
Shows till date: 59 till 17 September 2012
Synopsis of the Play
56 hours on the trot....
The time: Mumbai attack. The place: Gateway of India, opposite to the Taj Hotel. The media people from all over the country had been on beat. Oneofthem was the ITNtv reporter, Raka Ramona Choudhury. There was firing all around. People screaming in horror. An ambience of anxiety with fear and stress galore. Raka, at that point in time, couldn’t imagine that the cumulative effect of all this would leave a scar in her mind so indelible as to keep on haunting her night after night.Having since then been on sleeping pills for four months, a distressed Raka, on her visit to the psychiatrist Dr Jain, can for the first time narrate her trauma, and herself suddenly discovers that the collage of sound and fury that has been haunting her is not actually any trauma to her-but a queer ardour to solve the umpteen riddles shaping up regarding the Mumbai attack-sort of a check post to cross over the trauma instead. Dr Jain, too, doesn’t consider what Raka has been suffering from anything but her occupational hazard, and deems fit to advise her to enjoy her life, to get into it and to savor the fun and frolic.
But what did Raka actually see? And why on earth so many questions are haunting her?
The blindfolded man...
Day 3 of the Mumbai attack. Time: around 1 pm. The cops took a man-blindfolded and hands tied in the back-out of the Hotel Taj, packed into a prison van and vanished. Raka broadcast the footage on ITNtv and commented, “The NSG commandos have arrested a terrorist inside the Hotel Taj.” But a couple ofhours later the NSG rubbished the news as “baseless”. Now, the question crops up as to who theman was, because the footage was not fake after all.Now the biggest challenge for Raka and her associate cameraman Akash becomes to find out the identity of the man-a lot bigger question thaneven to gain their credibility back as journalists. Akash comes to know that the man is a musician, playing on his piano at the time of the attack, and his name is Amir Suleiman, a Pakistani citizen.On hearing the
name of the man, Raka is taken aback as Amir Suleiman used to be her music teacher.In the wee hours of the night that day,
Raka is taken to the police station where the cops starts interrogating her about Suleiman,andeventually asks her to
identify Suleiman from among a heap of dead bodies. Why and how can Suleiman die out of nothing? Abewildered Raka cannot make sense.
Who was the pianist? Where did he disappeared?
Eight months later, that missing...
Whoever could foresee that the Mumbai Police would have to meet up with such embarrassment regarding that missing musician? The former Chief Minister calls up Ashok Mehrotra, the Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence Branch. Why? Bollywood star, Ronni Kapoor, is believed to be receiving threat calls from unknown people. And hence an interrogation, whichrakes upsometerrible tidings. David Braitly, one of the alleged in the Mumbai attack, had come over to Kapoor sixmonths prior to the Mumbai attack and paid him Rs5 million as advance for taking part in a realityshow to be held in Dubai. The show got cancelled later on. And now some unknown people are calling up Kapoor for that buck to be paid back, failing which they would circulate the photographs of Kapoor in company of Braitly in the media.But when was the show slated to be held? 30 November 2008, four days after the Mumbai attack. An astonished Mehrotra asks Kapoor how many artistes were supposed to take part in the show? 20, says Kapoor, butreadily denies having been in the know as to who they were because they were hired from a school run by one Amir Suleiman. So? Was this a pre-meditated move to take the offenders out of India in the guise of musicians? Mehrotra orders IB Inspector, Jay, to detain Kapoor for further interrogation and to arrest that missing musician, Suleiman, from wherever he is hiding. But Jay comes up with some even more startling information: Suleiman was known to have been one of the personal friends of the ATS Chief, Sushant Karkare, who was killed by the terrorists during the attack. A bewildered Mehrotra intends to warn Jay. But...
So was Suleiman the pianist involved with the Mumbai attack?
No Indian is involved with the attack...
In order to track Suleiman, Jay insists, one has to first scan through the entire call records of the mobile phone used by Sushant Karkare because it was no other than Suleiman who texted Karkare to let him know for the first time that the Hotel Taj was under attack. Who then, Jay wonders, gave the telephonic instruction to Karkare to move to the Kama Hospital? And why all the call records were obliterated “for the sake of investigation”? But, all the shady questions and incoherent stream of events notwithstanding, Mehrotra declares that they will have to operate inside the framework of the government’s official finding that the blueprint of the Mumbai attack was all conceived and manufactured in Pakistan. And Mehrotra also passes out the instruction that Ronni Kapoor will, at the very outset, have to be cleared off from any involvement with the attack. Meanwhile the news of arrest of Kapoor and Braitly has spread, and the media from the length and breadth of the country have started to go all out to get into this sensitive event. But the Mumbai Police plays a subtle trick and the focus, in no time, shifts from Kapoor to Suleiman. Suleiman, a Pakistani pianist, who was playing at the Hotel Taj at the time of the attack, is now missing. How does he look? Whom in Mumbai he used to be associated with? Who will find out the answers? None other than the ITNtv reporter, Raka Ramona Choudhury, who used to be a cello student of Sukleiman.
But Raka, on the one hand, can’t for a moment consider Suleiman anything but a talented musician. Yet she, on the other hand, can’t also let the opportunity of striking gold as a journalist go as this has ever been her passion. Chief Reporter of ITNtv, Prakash Chaubey, throws the challenge of making the biggest Breaking News ever to Raka who is already torn by her inner conflicts. Raka succumbs to the personality of Chaubey and also to the lure of her own passion, and gets back into what she left behind some months ago.
Will Raka be able to prove the point?
But the fantasy that Raka fancied...
But Amir Suleiman! The hero of the fantasy that Raka fancied. Suleiman has been all set to compose a piece of music that will be other-worldly, and she nurtures the dream of going places with the orchestra, playing it in London, Paris, Vienna. She is all in love with that composition that exudes raw passion, an eternal protest against all terror and bloodshed. She has conceived that passion in her womb. Now... the journalist, or the musician, which self of hers would dominate the other?
For what Raka is after Suleiman? For her own sake?
The cops or the media?...
Inspector Jay, under the instruction of Mehrotra, coerces a drug peddler called Rashid Lala to cook up a story that he called Ronni Kapoor up, seeking money. Going by this statement of his, the cops arrest him and releases Kapoor from custody. And thus all the questions start revolving around Suleiman now. Who is this guy? Where is he hiding? Meanwhile, all the pressure posed by the cops as well as Chaubey notwithstanding, Raka finds the track she must beat. Instead of crystallizing the suspicions over Suleiman, she has got to prove that Sulleiman is no terrorist, but just a musician. Neither the cops nor Chaubey can perceive that Raka has taken up the assignment as a very different kind of challenge.
The last challenge, the final frontier, maybe.
But Akash-with all his sentiments, emotions and romantic passion for Raka at stake-wants to know in unequivocal terms as to how Raka can be so certain about Sulleiman’s innocence. “Because I love him.” “What?” The no-nonsense confession Raka makes regarding Sulleiman comes to Akash as no less than a bolt from the blue. He is just all over the place. “No, Akash,” Raka elucidates, “my love for Suleiman has got nothing to do with romance. I just can’t live without you, you know.” Akash-suddenly elated, yet still unable to come out of the jolt of dismay he got a minute back-can’t really figure out what Raka means.
All so confusing all around!
Suleiman is in Islamabad, or in Mumbai?...
The Suleiman stories keep amking the headlines in the media, with the TRP sky-rocketing every passing moment. Prakash, on being informed by Raka that Suleiman is now in Islamabad, doesn’t lose any time to send Akash and Raka to Islamabad. A “Suleiman Live” would just mean a record TRP! But Raka has other ideas. She wants Professor Pervez Mustaq-a friend of Suleiman’s to be on air live and exclusive and speak out on what Suleiman is.
They arrive in Islamabad, and the same day the city is shaken by a devastating car bomb explosion. Raka sets her show at the very site of the explosion, and only 10 minutes prior to the show conveys to her producers that Suleiman is not actually in Islamabad now and hence Professor Pervez Mustaq in his lieu. Professor Pervez Mustaq goes on air live and starts narrating some unsettling stories of Suleiman’s life. The Talibans, Professor Mustaq reveals, shot the wife and two daughters of Suleiman in Lahore as because they had been participating in a western music show there. Suleiman-understandably a broken man-chose an altogether different form of protest. Not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, Suleiman appealed the ears of millions through composing a score, mightier than any weapon on earth. “The world cannot but takes a bow to such a man,” Professor Mustaq reflects to sum up his story. This story brings forth a queer change in Raka’s demeanour. Her professional self gives way for her inner passion for music. She can hear that composition of Suleiman. The umpteen shoes haplessly scattered all over the site of explosion evolve into an orchestra playing that score.
She cries out.Is it her ascension, or yet another catastrophe?
If Raka could meet Kasav...
The show-Islamabad Live-goes off air. An utter embarrassment for ITNtv. Chaubey demands an explanation from Raka for her weird behaviour on camera. But, meanwhile, the collage of gory scenes of terror has again been taking her in a state of deadly trauma. The shoes Chaubey has been wearing, and the scattered footwears at the explosion site in Islamabad... Raka gets it all mixed up. She starts screaming and dismantles the office furniture in a wild fit of fury. She gets admitted to hospital under the care of Dr Jain. According to the the doctor, the only therapy that can work on Raka now is music. The inspiration that she extracts out of music can beat the horror of terror. Only her fantasies on music can outwit the nightmares she has been having. But how? Medical science, too, has got its limitations, the doctor admits, adding that there can just be another way out, and that is making Raka meet Kasav the terrorist. If Raka could see Kasav in person, even for a moment, captive and leashed in chains all over, she would know that terror was not all-pervasive, and thus her traums could be transformed into hatred. Akash calls on Mehrotra and tells him about this apparently bizarre prescription of Dr Jain, and can manage a date with the dragon for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the cops have been going all out to capture Suleiman. They detain an orphan Jew kid, Afran, who used to play violin in Suleiman’s troupe. Afran tells the cops that the orchestration Suleiman had been working on was already over, and the rehearsals, too, are by now, on. The music-Afran declares-is born. Now the cops can nab Suleiman, can even kill him but can’t take his music away.
Bullets won’t prevail, music will!
BREAKING NEWS! BREAKING NEWS!...
The stage is all set for Raka to call on Kasav in prison. Part of her therapy, yes. But for Raka herself, this meeting bears different significance. If she can capture the moments of her meeting with Kasav in a hidden camera, that will become her own exclusive footage, the country’s biggest breaking news! She takes up the challenge, all on her own. Starts taking notes of many missing links of the Mumbai attack. Does her homework all night through before the D-Day. But... will it all work? Or... will it make way for another catastrophe? It’s the latter. The catastrophe does in fact take place. Meanwhile, the music has spread, has taken over the unuttered words chocked in the throats of millions standing against the mighty terror, has become the ‘voice of the people’-the human choir. Terror shall have to bite the dust because music is ‘the most powerful element in the universe’. But can Raka-now partially paralyzed in her chase for one big BREAKING NEWS-hear the tune that has become the anthem of resistance?
Raka, are you listening?
· Abhigyan Guha
NB:Cast arranged in alphabetical order of names.
· Ashok Bandyopadhyay
· Bapi Dasgupta
· Dr. Subhasish Ganguly
· Mahadeb Shee
· Partha Protim Nag
· Prabal Deb
· Rajat Bandyopadhyay
· Sampa Sen
· Samudra Guha
· Sangram Guha
· Sanjib Dutta
· Shyamotpal Chanda
· Subhabrata Chanda Choudhury
· Titas Das