Shouvanik’s new play, Ekrāt Banalatā (Mukta Angan, January 23), is just that: a new play authored by Indrasish Laharry, who must at least be congratulated for persevering in composing original drama at a time when Bengali playwriting has virtually ground to a halt.
This work, however, fades rapidly after a very promising start. A popular cine star named Banalata Sen (did he have to christen her this?), accused of murder, seeks refuge with three of her fans—a refuge denied by two of them, for personal reasons. Despite Laharry’s laudable sentiments about human hypocrisy and cowardice when faced with a person in a crisis, the drama is not sturdy enough to last, particularly after the interval.
At this point Amal Mukherjee, who has directed many a Shouvanik success in the past, organizes a surprisingly artificial party scene that ruins the development. In contrast the first scene, in the film studio, contains the best acting, specially from the director (Shibu Majumdar) and the producer (Swapan Chakrabartti). As the heroine, Saraswati Bandyopadhyay begins with a flourish but soon falls into regular melodrama, losing all symbolic interest.
Ashok Hall’s production of The Belle of Barcelona at Kalamandir deserves praise not for the book (they could have chosen a better musical), but for the school’s awareness that children can learn a lot (individual contribution, responsibility, teamwork, aesthetics) from involvement in a theatrical venture. In their hidebound regimens, most Calcutta schools stay away from such extra-curricular activities. The participation of a 40-strong choir, a dozen dancers and a large cast (not to mention Atelier Musique’s live orchestra) allowed many girls first-hand experience of a wide range of performance. The acting may not have been exceptional, but some singing voices stood out, notably the pristine tone of the heroine, Anindita Chakraborty.
(From The Telegraph, 4 March 1993)