Balance Sheet

Group: Kokoro

Dramatist-director:  Anindita Banerji



Group: Kathakriti

Director:  Sanjib Ray

Dramatization: Tirthankar Chanda

Source: Tagore

This is a tribute to theatre teachers on Teachers Day, looking at the new plays by two groups training young learners in the live form that best inculcates teamwork and incorporates all the arts of creative expression. We welcome the Hindi debut of schoolteacher Anindita Banerji, who had so far written and directed drama in English, and we hope that the few active Hindi directors in the city persuade her to compose scripts for them, to rejuvenate the diminishing and aging local Hindi theatre.


She inaugurated her little group Kokoro (Nepali for “nest”) two years ago with the delightful Don’t Say “No”, Adrija!, which even made it into print. She continues spreading gender awareness with her characteristic sense of humour on Balance Sheet, Kokoro’s second production. A stressed businessman, Ganeriwal, is so obsessed with making money that he invokes Ganesh for help. Instead, Durga appears, explaining that her son has such a huge workload post-demonetization that the family members have to share the backlog. She witnesses the Ganeriwal household: he domineers over his timid wife like the typical Indian patriarch, shouts at his sister and his sons (one of whom loves a Muslim girl), and scoffs at his daughter’s plea to let her go abroad for higher studies. Durga then drops her cryptic pearls of wisdom, “Adore Durga”. When he understands what that means, he transforms – to the extent that his family thinks they should call the doctor!


Banerji can easily flesh out Balance Sheet into a full-length play that combines the existing entertainment and education as well as keeps its happy ending. Kapil Pincha stands out as the tyrannical Ganeriwal, whose voice goes shrill whenever he loses his temper. Everyone else supports to build the aura of fear around him. But I miss the other performing arts – song and dance – over both of which Banerji has shown considerable previous expertise.


Divine manifestation on earth to grant humans wish-fulfilment features in Kathakriti’s Ichchhepuran, too. Tagore’s perennial favourite with kids describes the farcical exchange of roles when father and son dream of switching places and ages. It has been frequently dramatized from the original short story, and this one by Tirthankar Chanda provides a suitable vehicle for Kathakriti’s children’s theatre class. The director, Sanjib Ray, capitalizes on the fact that boys love mimicking their elders. Again, however, exploiting underlying talents of music and dance could have enlivened the proceedings further.


(From The Times of India, 7 September 2018)