There’s hope for Bharat Dabholkar and Burjor Patel’s Theatre Arts Production yet. Compared to the repetitive tripe that they keep regurgitating in their Bottoms Up and Bumbay revues, It’s All Yours, Janab! (Spandan Utsav, Kalamandir, March 12) at least suggests some pretensions of relying on classier material. In this case the original is the milestone 1957 comedy Tujhe Ahe Tujapashi by the grand old man of Marathi theatre, P. L. Deshpande, which has apparently logged up a record-breaking 4000 performances by now.
Adapted and directed by Dabholkar—who also appears in a bit role as a driver—the play constitutes a tussle between the ascetic and the aesthetic ideals personified by a guru and an aristocrat respectively, with two youthful romances as their battleground. The mix of English and Hindi in the dialogue is novel but not quite believable when it comes from characters like the driver, gardener or retainer. The acting is nothing extraordinary, except for the young son (name unavailable due to lack of cast list), hilariously suspended between the two poles of life.
One of the recent trends in Bengali theatre is to move away from plays with an obvious political bent, which our groups have always taken pride in espousing, to areas that have not even the faintest connection with politics. Gandhar’s Takhan Bikel perhaps best typifies this shift in attention, and Nandipat’s current production, Trinayan, follows suit. Both these modern European plays deal with love—a subject disdainfully considered as reactionary by politically-conscious troupes—but thankfully still a subject of human interest.
The source of Trinayan is Peter Shaffer’s early work The Public Eye (1962). Although not one of his masterpieces, it does show his great versatility and dramatic craftsmanship, spinning together a detective story with a romantic comedy: a suspicious husband hires a private eye to verify if his wife is having an affair. Adapter-director Somnath Mukhopadhyay maintains the spirit of Shaffer’s use of this classic triangle, but tends to drag the pace at times. Nevertheless, the message remains intact that love can only survive by keeping the romance alive.
While Sonamani Sengupta acts credibly as the young wife starved of love, the two men fare less successfully. Mukhopadhyay plays the detective himself, but makes him into too much of an eccentric. And Kalyan Chattopadhyay, as the stuffy chartered-accountant husband, should realize that stiffness does not necessarily convey stuffiness. In addition, the choice of costumes often seems too deliberately incongruous.
(From The Telegraph, 16 April 1993)