KOLKATA: It's a fascinating tale of love, betrayal and loss in the backdrop of the wild - an exceptional story of a man's search for redemption through a valiant attempt to save the tiger and the fragile ecosystem of the forest in which he has chosen to live and his salvation in his quest for love and bliss.
"In Night's End", an English play directed by Gowari Ramnarayan and staged at the GD Birla Sabhagar on Sunday evening, nature and man merge to create a unique symphony of love and passion. It also carried a strong underlying message of conservation, defty woven into the plot.
Set in a reserve forest in Rajasthan, "Night's End" is the story of Krishnan Nair, a sensitive youngster born into a family of Kathakali artists in rural Kerala. He runs away from home and wanders into the forest. There, he starts working as a forest guard. The impressionable artist in him soaks in the jungle environment, which makes him fall deeply in love with his surroundings. Alone and forlorn in an alien jungle, Nair seeks solace in nature and ocassionally breaks into dance. It comforts him and helps him carry on. In moments of emotional upheaval, it comes to his aid.
And he guards the park like his home, considering every animal and tree his own. It gets him close to the Mogiya tribe, which hunts tigers. He moves with them, sings and dances to their tribal tunes. In the process, he also converts them into conservationists, enlisting their help in saving the tiger.
Actor Sheejith Krishna was brilliant in his protrayal of Nair. He moves effortlessly from being passionate and energetic on stage, to sensitive and emotional. The pain and sadness of solitude in a forest is wonderfully punctuated by his sudden spells of trance-like dance. His relationship with Mogiya girl Chandni is almost a culmination of his attachment to the terrain. Nair's friendship with Billu, a tribal drummer, reflects his transformation from a simple village lad to a passionate crusader for nature and everything associated with it. He is just as passionate and combative when he takes on the poaching mafia with the Mogiyas by his side.
And the tiger is almost omnispresent. All through the music, the dances, the taut drama and the conflicts, you can almost hear the big cat roar. It keeps reminding you of the dwindling number of tigers at our reserve forests and perhaps the inequal battle that conservationists are now waging against poachers. Nair's helplessness often mirrors their predicament. The turbulence in his life is in a way a reflection of their struggle against the tremendous odds that they face.
But in the end, "Night's End" is a story of optimism and hope. Of the eternal human craving to bond with nature. Rarely have nature and conservation been dealt with such passion on stage. At a time when conservationists are fighting a desperate battle to save tigers and our forests, the play couldn't have been more relevant.