Stage craft at Santiniketan

Stage craft at Santiniketan is still an experience for the senses. These are photos from a recent production of Chandalika, the dance drama by Rabindranath Tagore. Based on a Buddhist tale ‘Chandalika’ was published in the form of a dance drama in 1938 and was for the first time staged in Calcutta in the same year.

The story of ‘Chandalika’ centers round Prokiti (Chandalika or daughter of the Chandals), a low caste girl, who is despised by her neighbors. Even hawkers in the street do not sell their goods to her. She broods over her destiny and curses her mother for bringing her into the world. While in this mood, she goes to fetch water from the well where she meets Ananda, a disciple of Buddha. Ananda begs her for a drink of water. Prokriti informs him that she is an untouchable and as such it is decreed that water from her well is to be treated as polluted. Ananda replies to the effect that all human beings are equal, drinks water, blesses her and departs.The incident changes Prokriti’s entire outlook on life and she begins to live for the day when Ananda would appear before her again. He does on one occassion go past her chanting hymns with other Buddhist monks but fails to notice her.
Bitterly disappointed, she seeks help from her mother who is known to practice witchcraft. The mother agrees and by various means of sorcery succeeds in bringing Ananda before Prokriti. The later touches the monk’s feet and begs his forgiveness for dragging him down to her own level. The play ends with Ananda pronouncing his blessings on her.

They were planned and executed under the guidance of Sudhi Ranjan Mukherjee, a past alumnus of Rabindra Bharati University and a current lecturer in Santiniketan,


A rough sketch of the trees to drawn on the panels forming the wings.



A mock up of the entire stage.



Wings with indigenous designs.



Stylized birds.







Dancer, left wings.


Wings on right of stage.




All photographs: by Sudhi Ranjan Mukherjee.


Follow the link to hear the songs from the Chandalika:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

আমি চিত্রাঙ্গদা, আমি রাজেন্দ্রনন্দিনী/Ami Chitrangada,Ami Rajendranondini/I am Chitrangada

আমি চিত্রাঙ্গদা, আমি রাজেন্দ্রনন্দিনী।
নহি দেবী, নহি সামান্যা নারী।
পূজা করি মোরে রাখিবে ঊর্ধ্বে
সে নহি নহি,
হেলা করি মোরে রাখিবে পিছে
সে নহি নহি।
যদি পার্শ্বে রাখ মোরে
সংকটে সম্পদে,
সম্মতি দাও যদি কঠিন ব্রতে
সহায় হতে,
পাবে তবে তুমি চিনিতে মোরে।
আজ শুধু করি নিবেদন–
আমি চিত্রাঙ্গদা রাজেন্দ্রনন্দিনী॥

রাগ: সাহানা
তাল: কাহারবা
রচনাকাল (বঙ্গাব্দ): ফাল্গুন ১৩৪২
রচনাকাল (খৃষ্টাব্দ): ফেব্রুয়ারি, ১৯৩৬
রচনাস্থান: শান্তিনিকেতন

I am Chitrangada
I am Chitrangada, a princess from a line of great kings
No goddess am I, nor an ordinary woman.
I do not crave worship nor ask to be exalted
That is not I,
That you should ask me in passing to follow behind
That is not I.
I ask to be at your side
In both the good times and ill,
And that you allow yourself to share
Equally in the penances that may come,
Then will you know my worth.
Today I just say unto you –
I am Chitrangada, a princess from a line of great kings

Raag: Sahana
Tal: Kaharba
Written: Bongabdo 1342, 1936
Written: Santiniketan

Follow the link to hear Suchitra Mitra

ফুলে ফুলে ঢ’লে ঢ’লে বহে কিবা মৃদু বায়/Phule Phule Dhole Dhole Bohe Kiba Mridu Bay/The gentle breeze dances over the flowers

ফুলে ফুলে ঢ’লে ঢ’লে বহে কিবা মৃদু বায় ,

তটিনী হিল্লোল তুলে কল্লোলে চলিয়া যায়।

পিক কিবা কুঞ্জে কুঞ্জে কুহু কুহু কুহু গায় ,

কী জানি কিসেরই লাগি প্রাণ করে হায় – হায়।

Phule phule dhole dhole bohe kibā mridu bāy

Totini hillol tule kallole bohiyā jāy

Piko kibā kunje kunje kuhu kuhu kuhu gāy

Ki jāni kishero lāgi prāno kore hāi hāi

The gentle breeze dances its way over the flowers,

The stream babbles and trips in its rush to be gone.

The cuckoo trills its sweet song in the groves,

Who knows why my heart still cries out, alas!

Listen at:

Rabindranath Tagore was influenced by the Robert Burns song “Ye Banks and Braes O’ Bonnie Doon”

Listen at: