Rangakarmee’s studio theatre, Binodini Keya Mancha, began hosting programmes regularly this year, offering an alternative venue for groups willing to experiment. It recently presented the Kolkata debut of a young Bangladeshi troupe, Bangalok, who we can predict will soon become a popular name here.

Sayik Siddiquee, their soloist-director, has recomposed authentically the traditional Rupchān Sundarir Pālā from Maimansingh. At last I find someone who embodies the demotic appeal of this form, as opposed to our exponents who play up its remoteness, melodrama and extravagance. Instead, he makes it contemporary, interpolating male stalkers, mobiles, Facebook and English into his narrative; improvisatory, by ad-libbing Kolkata references and persons (including the photographer present); and interactive, often initiating contact and exchanges with spectators. He confirmed, when I asked him, that this is the style still practised in villages of Kishorganj where he lives. That is how folk reinvents itself constantly, embracing commoners with topical humour. But he should undermine two obsolete aspects of the tale: the stereotypical evil stepmother, and the abject despair after dishonour that caused Rupchan to kill herself. A three-member dohar (who also act in support) accompanied engagingly; next time he should bring the full septet, with dotārā and flute.

Usha Ganguli directs her latest work, Atmaj, exclusively for this space. Her original script, based on news reports, describes the tragedy of an educated woman who marries the man she loves but is rejected by his family and committed to an institution while pregnant. Karuna Thakur projects the lead powerfully, and Ganguli choreographs the defining image of a passenger boat as only she can.

For the inaugural event, Maya Ghosh retraced her theatre past conversationally in Uhini’s Māyār Chhāyā Pathe. Adrija Dasgupta directs her in Ghosh’s unassuming, self-effacing manner, interspersed with snippets from characters identified with her, and carefully sidestepping anything controversial. But it ends abruptly, leaving us wanting more about the second half of her career, which has seen significant changes.

(From The Telegraph, 12 May 2018)