Group: Samstab

Director: Sima Mukhopadhyay

Dramatist: Snehasish Bhattacharjee


Continuity has always remained a worry with Bengali groups after the departure of their leaders. But Dwijen Bandyopadhyay’s premature passing has not curtailed the activities of Samstab who, in the time-honoured spirit of “The show must go on”, launch their second new production in the space of a year. Sima Mukhopadhyay runs her own group, but found time to direct both these plays, helping Samstab to tide over the rough period.


Anāhuta, written by Snehasish Bhattacharjee, qualifies as a psychological thriller. The earlier works by him that I have seen – Swapna Parash and Gabhir Asukh – depict directly doctors dealing with mental disturbances, but Anāhuta moves towards crime. As the title indicates, it features an intruder barging into a happy home, and accusing the husband of stealing his identity and everything belonging to him.


From here on we must raise spoiler alerts. He claims that both of them fought side by side as Army officers in Kargil and he went missing in action, presumed dead. In fact, he had suffered grievous injuries; local inhabitants chanced upon him and nursed him back to health. For a plot like this to succeed, the author must plug all loopholes. But Bhattacharjee has not done this carefully, thereby affecting plausibility.


In ascending order: the stranger says he has reported to the thana, but the police do not have any information. Two: attention focuses exclusively on his lost Army ID; his xeroxed service records surely include other documents that can verify his identity? Crucially, one expects Kashmiri villagers rescuing a wounded soldier (who must have had some shreds of his uniform on him) to alert the military rather than risk trouble by caring for him themselves. Most incredibly, why did the wife accept the impostor, even if she liked him, yet knowing fully that he was capable of such deceit?


Mukhopadhyay needs to iron out these wrinkles in the script, and reduce a much-too-long lawyers’ scene. Otherwise, she conveys tensely the fear of a trespasser in one’s own house. The performances revolve round Sanjib Sarkar’s almost deranged quest in the lead to reclaim his existence, ably supported by Amrita Mukhopadhyay and Susnata Bhattacharjee as the couple.  Dwijen Bandyopadhyay’s daughter Kankabati makes a promisingly natural debut as the overworked maid.


(From The Times of India, 9 August 2019)