Saturday Fare

Sight & Sound – Prantik Deka

Unique Play on Shirdi Sai Baba

The Centenary celebrations of the Mahasamadhi of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba is being observed by many trusts and organisations throughout the country and overseas, since October 15 last year, and will continue till October 15, this year. The Guwahati based Shri Shirdi Sai Spiritual and Charitable Trust too has drawn up a series of yearlong cultural and social events, with inspiration and guidance from Dr. Chandra Bhanu Satpathy, a renowned spiritual thinker and philanthropist, to mark the historical centenary year of the revered Saint and Sadguru, who lived most of his life in Shirdi village in Maharashtra, till his Mahasamadhi, in October 15, 1918.

The Trust has been conducting yoga classes in the temple premises at VIP Road, starting a Help Desk under the banner – ‘May I Help You’ on April 30 at the Out Patient Department of Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, launching a free Health Care Centre at VIP Road, Guwahati on May 2 last. Apart from the above Centenary Year celebration programmes, the Managing Trustee of the Spiritual and Charitable Trust, Himangshu Sekher Das, with his single-minded devotion, proposed to present a play on the life and teachings of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba. He strongly felt that Sai Baba’s life, His spiritual ideas and doctrines needed to be promoted, more so in today’s troubled times, lest the whole fabric of civilized society ends up in a limbo. Accordingly, he entrusted the responsibility to Basanta Kumar Baruah, who was only too happy to direct and design the play despite the challenges involved. There was an unprecedented interest and anticipation among the devotees and enthusiasts leading up to the play’s actual performance following the announcement.

What followed was a big-budget, large-cast spectacle – ‘Shri Shirdi Sai Baba’, which was staged for the first time in Assam on May 1 and 2, at the Pragjyoti Cultural Complex in Machkhowa. The superbly mounted play, showcasing the life of the saint, his divine powers, and his teachings, connected with the audiences of every age, a sizeable number of them devotees, on an emotional level, on both the nights.

Basanta Kumar Baruah’s competent direction was abetted by an impressive all-round performance by the artistes. Noted dramatist Jiten Sarma’s skills and enormous talent came to the fore while penning the play, which is based on the novel ‘Shri Sai Sacharitra’ – a translated work by Himangshu Sekhar Das from the original by noted Marathi writer Govind Rao Davolker.

“I simply cannot express my feelings in words right now,” said Baruah after the conclusion of the two-day event. “I have been organising and directing Raas Leela and Mancha Bhaona in Guwahati, Delhi, Kolkata and other places since 2009. But I have experienced spiritual happiness for the first time through this play, where the emphasis is on the individual as a spiritual being, a universe within himself, and it has turned out to be a hugely rewarding experience for me,” said Baruah, before adding that audiences, a number of them teary-eyed, were transported to various planes of spiritual awakening.

Besides the blessings of Sai Baba, it was his Guru Dr. Chandra Bhanu Satpathy, who has been his guide, providing him with the necessary spiritual doctrines, even stepping up to the stage to show him the actual picture of Sai Baba and Shirdi.

Baruah was also quite judicious in his selection of artistes. The various roles have been enacted by Saranga Bordoloi (Sai Baba), Jayanta Bhagawati, Padmarag Goswami, Mala Goswami, Amritav Rajkhowa, Naba Baruah, Diganta Bhuyan, Mina Engti, Chandan Baruah, Neela Saikia, Jitu Buragohain, Priyanka Sarma, Ram Hazarika, Chandan Mishra, Atul Patgiri, Bhaskarjyoti Baruah, Joly Bhattacharjyya, Manoj Das, etc. The play’s chief coordinator was filmmaker Bobby Sarma Baruah, Baruah’s better half, while Tapan Kumar Baruah was involved as an assistant director, light and set designer, and the music has been scored by Pankaj Sarma. The songs in the play were rendered by Sulakshyana Barua and Prasanta Rajguru. The play’s technical director is Diganta Bhuyan. The make-up was done by Siva Prasad Nath, Partha Haloi and Debakanta Hazarika. Basanta Kumar Baruah is also credited with designing the costumes.