Jiban O Rajnaitik Bastabata

Directed by Syed Jamil Ahmed

Performed at Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka in March 2019

Jīban O Rājnoitik Bāstabatā [Life and Political Reality] (2019) is an adaptation of the novel by the same title by Shahidul Zahir. It questions the dominant discourse reagarding te War of Liberation in Bangladesh by asking how could the collaborators who worked for Pakistan Army during the war be reinstated in the society after the war, without facing criminal indictment for their heinous crime. In seeking answer to this question, Jīban O Rājnoitik Bāstabatā, Zahir enacts a gripping narrative of the war by employing magic realism, discarding linear cause-and-effect logic, and conventional chronological arrangement of events in the order of their occurrence. Switching through time in apparent randomness, Zahir recounts in a feverish and possessed state, an excruciating memory of the war. He employs a complex mode of narration that combines the voice of the residents of the neighbourhood, and of the brother of a teenager named Momena who was raped and killed during the war by an Islamist named Bodu Maulana and his band of Razakars, a militia working for Pakistan Army. The point-of-view is the ground-zero level, where the rhetoric of the politicians sound empty and meaningless. There are no heroes in Jīban O Rājnoitik Bāstabatā. It castigates and desacralizes glorious narration of the Bengali nation, to demonstrate how the collaborators who aided the Pakistan Army during the Liberation War in Bangladesh were rehabilitated by the State after the war, even though the collaborators raped and killed innocent civilians, burnt their houses, and hounded them to serve the interests of the Pakistan army. The novel asserts that the people have not forgotten the pain, and questions why the political leaders often mobilize expedient means to forget the pain.