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Kobor: Explores the crisis of the Language Movement and gives hope for a new nation

  • Published at 02:50 pm December 13th, 2019
Munier Chowdhury
Munier Chowdhury | Wikipedia

Since its premiere in the jail premises, Kobor remained one of the most important theatre pieces in Bangladesh for its effective narration for nationalism

Every year, December 14 reminds us that as a nation we have stepped backwards so much without the brilliant minds of the country. On December 14, 1971, the intellectuals of Bangladesh  were picked up in large numbers by Pakistani collaborators, never to be seen again, just to cripple the country.

Martyred Intellectual Munier Chowdhury, one of the brightest minds of the country was also picked up by the Pakistani army and their collaborators. His absence still felt so strongly in many areas in both politics and culture. 

Primarily known as the author of iconic plays such as Kobor and Roktakto Prantor, he was also a noted educationist, thespian, linguist, literary critic and a staunch Bengali nationalist. He was engaged in leftist politics of the time and arrested in 1952 for protesting against police repression and the killing of students during the Language Movement. 

Munier Chowdhury was born in 1925 in Manikganj, Dhaka. Some of his important literary works include Raktakta Prantar, Mir-Manas, Ektala-Dotala, Dandakaranya, Chithi, Palashi Barrack O Anyanya, Tulanamulak Samalochana and Bangla Gadyariti.

Munier Chowdhury had immense contributions to the theatre of this country.  One of his classic creations, Kobor, investigates and explores the crisis of  February 21,1952. 

The play is still so contemporary and important to find the answer to national identity. Its dialogues and screenplay are so strong making the play an example for new generation scriptwriters. 

As a political prisoner at the Dhaka Central Jail, Munier Chowdhury finished writing the one act play on January 17, 1953, which is highly influenced by Irwin Shaw's Bury the Dead (1936). 

Since its premiere in the jail premises, Kobor remained one of the most important theatre pieces in Bangladesh for its effective narration for nationalism.

The main  protagonists of the play, attempt to make sense of the disharmony and crisis of February 21, metaphorically through crisis in the fictional world of a graveyard. The police officer, political leader, all of them reflect the corrupt individuals of the society.

At the graveyard, an influential political leader claims to be 'the sole master of the biggest political organization of the country' and a police officer (Hafiz) completely faithful to the ruling party and the government. Their drinking habit is a proof of their fear. 

The playwright introduces the lunatic Murda Fakir as a resident of the graveyard, and also the conscience of the society. Murda Fakir's dialogues and character arc makes the character one of the iconic ones in the history of Bangladesh theatre.

Kobor explores the  bourgeoisie, petty leadership and the rise of a new nation from ashes. This is a kind of play that engage the audience deeply while conveying an important message on nationalism, corruption and freedom, for which the play is still so contemporary. 

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