(Last Updated on : 10-01-2013)
Mythological dramas in Assamese literature depict the discourse of Post-modern studies in literature and philosophy which have had strengthened their grounds since 1970s revealing the bias embedded in the 'scientific' templates. Myth is now defined as belief or subjective truth, the lens through which even the most scientific of scientists sees the world. The Orientalists dismissed Indian notions of time which is circular as 'myth'. However the pre independent era and post independent era saw the emergence of mythological themes as the crux of dramatic sojourn in Assam. Mythology can be linear or cyclical in concept and often leading to controversial hypothesis.
According to Historians, Ramakanta Chaudhury's Sita haran is the first drama of the modern period that belongs to the genre of Mythological dramas in Assamese Literature
which was written between 1870 and 1880. This drama was technically inspired by the Anglo-Bengali source of Michael Madhusudan Dutt
and the theme from the Vaishnava fountain-head. In 1893 P. K. Deva Sarma's Harishchandra was published, which was followed by Haradhanu bhanga by him. Two other dramatists who belong to this decade are H. Sarma Barua (Abhimanyu vadh, Sakuntala) and D. N. Bardoloi (Baideht bished).
In the beginning of the twentieth century the following mythological dramas were produced: B. Rajkhowa's Durjudhanar urubhanga (1903) and Daksha Tajna, D, P. Majumdar Barua's Guru dakshina (1903) and Brisaketu and C. D. Barua's Meghnad vadh (1904). These dramas possess a great historical significance. However they do not have any technical importance or creative merit. Meghnad vadh is a play written in blank verse. The pattern is fixed elastic in scope which allows liberty in the depiction of mythological characters. In plot construction, Barua has shown substantial craftsmanship in Meghnad Vadh. His other works include Tilottarma sambhav (1924) and Rajarshi.
Durgeswar Sarma has to two mythological plays to his credit: Partha parajay (1909) and Bali vadh (1912). These plays reveal the influence of Shakespeare's dramatic craft. Characters are humanized with their flaws and natural goodness; they are not the stock or flat characters anymore; rather grey. The main focus in the drama is on Vabrubahana where this shift in focus gives a tense romantic quality to the mythological chapter. Some other mythological dramas are: Balaram Pathak's Laba-Kusa (1914), Dhaniram Datta's Urvasi uddhar, I. S. Barthakur's Srivatsa Chinta (1927), Mitradev Mahanta's Baidehi biyug (staged 1930) and Balichalan (1953), P. N. Gohain-Barua's Banraja (1932), Dandi Kalita's Agni pariksha (1937) and Kicak vadh and so on. No tangible ideas are imparted through theses dramas.
In the subsequent years, mythology seemed to have dried up. However A. G. Rai-Chaudhury wrote Bandini Bharatmata (1904) to meet the challenge of Bengali literature overtaking the scenario. J. P. Agarwalla wrote Sonit Konwari (1924) and Atul Hazarika also contributed in order to meet this challenge. His mythological plays are Narakasur (1930), Beula (1933), Nanda dulal (1935), Kurushetra (1936), Ramchandra (1937), Champavati, Sakuntaia, Savitri (1939), Rukmini haran (1949) and Nirjita (1952).
He gave plausibility to a plot creating an atmosphere which was vibrant with mythical incredibility. Crisp dialogues are used and his diction is fluent. J. P. Agarwalla's Sonit Konwari (1924) is known for its lyricism and psychological interpretation of character and situation. It is a romantic comedy of love which is based on the legendary episode of Usha and Aniruddha. Some other mythological plays are Abasan, Chitrangada and Savitri by K. N. Bhattacharjya, Bisarjan (1933) and Nal Damayanti (1956) by Ananda Barua, Sakunir pratisodh (1939) by Gonesh Gogoi
, Rakshyakumar by L. D. Chaudhury, Kama and Lakshman (1949) by Suren Saikia and Mahavir Kama by Bhaben Thakuria.
Mythological dramas witnessed a decline from 1940 due to compelling pre-occupation with routine problems of life and due to the development of a rational attitude, the debunking of myths occurred as a natural consequence and western influences demystifying the prevailing myths . The dramas that were published during the post-war period are earlier compositions. These playwrights transformed the art of drama into a serious experience. They have always captured the mythical atmosphere skilfully employing a technique of opposite and conflicting forces which had enriched the technical quality of drama.