Ganakrishti has turned quite prolific this year, producing two original plays within a few months. Their long-term partnership with Slovenian dramatist Evald Flisar continues, group director Amitava Dutta adapting Flisar’s two-hander, Take Me into Your Hands, as Tomār Āmi. Scripts for two actors have become common in Western theatre, because they keep production costs low, but Bengali theatre still favours a cast of at least moderate size that gives enough of their members scope to perform. So, Tomār Āmi immediately stands out as an exception here.

The adaptation, too, naturalizes the source charmingly: an older man running a bookstore owned by his family in College Street advertises for part-time help owing to his advanced years. A young, not very well-educated woman answers, and represents not just another world, but even a new age, both alien to the proprietor. He has fixed notions about the purpose of his establishment, whereas she has all kinds of brainwaves about how to popularize it and push sales. A crisis arises when he has difficulties staying afloat, and decides to sell off his stock.

Debsankar Halder and Bindiya Ghosh, accustomed to being paired off in many recent plays, get under the skins of their roles perfectly. Both can individually steal the show with their virtuosity, but they refrain from doing so, creating the right equilibrium between themselves instead. Their characters achieve a mutual respect in which seniority and youth learn from, rather than disparage, each other – Flisar’s humanistic message. To back them, Tapas Mill has designed a quaint College Street bibliophilic ambience.

Amitava Dutta juxtaposes this love of books almost deliberately with dipsomania in Wine Flu, a pun-ful satire written by Udaynil Bhattacharya, where a city falls under the sway of alcoholism. The grandson of the founder of a nationalistic business (paralleling the grandfather who set up the shop in Tomār Āmi) ventures into manufacturing whisky. The brand and company flourish with the patronage of politicians, intellectuals (notably one Jibansudha Pan) and escort services. Even children turn to drink. The plot seems haphazardly arranged at times, starting with a lost shoe, found by a sorry detective duo, who later undertake to bring the distillery to book, but Dutta directs in properly farcical spirit while retaining the political thrust targeting the mercenary nexus behind crony capitalism. Shubhashis Gangopadhyay and Dipak Das enact the sleuth and sidekick as unlikely heroes.

(From The Telegraph, 21 May 2016)