Atha, Chandbibi Katha, a monologue.
Updated: Apr 30, 2021
A performance by Gourab Ghosh recorded for Queer Epistemicides
Performer: Gourab Ghosh Script: Kaustav Chakraborty Directorial inputs: Soumick De, Shomobrata Choudhury and Bishnupriya Dutt
The actor is a famous female impersonator of Bangla Jatra, popularly known as Rani. Sitting in his room, a world of his own, he tries to figure out why he has forgotten a few lines in a Jatra performance of Chandbibi based on the historical figure of Chandbibi who fought against the Mughal.
He remembers the insults hurled at him and also the lines from the text Chandbibi. He thereafter performs a few characters: Nandan Singh, Murad Kha, Dharam Singh and Afzal Kha from the Jatra text, Chandbibi, to see that he still remembers the dialogues of the entire performance. In between these dialogues, he also realises his sexual fantasies, the stardom that came with being Rani—the Queen, the insults, sexual exploitation and his gradual change to ‘Chand’ (the Moon).
At the end, he cannot accept of being a ‘napungshak’ (an impotent) as told by his audience, manager and fellow actor-lover. He frenziedly runs towards his dressing table to find the performer/ lover as ‘Chand’. At this moment, an actor encounters his other in the figure of the greatest character he has ever played, the self of a woman encounters the self of a sovereign, a time lost in banality encounters a time regained through sensuality, the cluttered space of a dingy room encounters the exhilarated space of a Jatra stage. And, in the midst of this chaosmos, a man meets a woman and a body meets an essence and one melts into the other. Thus we see how s/he moves from the stories of history to the tales of/on Jatra stage to his own world where all normative, stereotypes, imagined and alternatives collapse into a surreal experience of being the ‘real’ performer.
So we end up asking ourselves what is the secret of this meeting? The secret that hides under the skin that we wear, behind the flesh that we desire, undecided, indistinguishable... pulsating. This short monologue, in Bangla, is a modest attempt to capture the clamour of the thousand echoes of that tiny pulsation.
The slideshow below provides an outline of the story, an explanation of who the historical figure Chandbibi was and what Bengali Jatra is.
The performance of 'Atha, Chandbibi Katha, a monologue.'
The Hindi version of the concept note.
The performance flyer, where Gourab dedicates his performance to all queer folx who are fighting the fascist governments around the world.