Page:Nil Durpan.djvu/13

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village in Nadia, a district in Bengal. The kidnapping and torture of the peasant woman Khetramony in the play is a dramatic version of the kidnapping of Haramani, an event that caused deep and wide resentment in the country. Even the magistrates, referred to in the drama, represent real British officials with their identities suitably marked. The dialogue in the drama makes use of actual statements made by Government officials before the Indigo Commission [Ref. the dialogue of the Mukhtears in the Trial Scene of the play.] It refers to the actions taken by Sir J. P. Grant and W. Seton-Karr in favour of the ryots.

The Nil Darpan has linked the names of Dinabandhu, Michael and Rev. J. Long for ever. It helped to launch the professional Bengali stage in its career. The actors and actresses taking part in this drama were in constant danger of being manhandled by the British officials.

Two very well-known incidents, proving the force and power of this great drama, may be mentioned in this connection.

A performance in a town of Sanjukta Pradesh (United Provinces), while in progress, had to be given up as the British army men rushed to the stage with drawn swords.

On another occasion Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, the most courageous social reformer and the pioneer educationist of that age, while witnessing the play, was carried away by it to the extent that he took off one of his slippers and threw it at the head of Ardhendu Sekhar Mustafi who was playing the role of Mr. Rogue, an Indigo planter. The slipper was symbolic of the nation's reply to the atrocities of the Indigo planters. Never in his life did Ardhendu Sekhar receive better appreciation of his histrionic skill.

These two incidents help to show the two aspects of this powerful drama. Obviously it could both bite and rouse. It is no mean drama that can, on the one hand, draw British swords out of their scabbards, and on the