Bhāngā Bhāngā Chhabi

Group: Bahuswar

Director: Tulika Das

Dramatist: Girish Karnad



Group: Mahabharat Rangbhumi

Dramatist-director: Atish Chanda



Dramatist-director: Onooja Bhuyan


Solo performances constitute the nucleus of several new Bengali productions, in which technical inputs, stage properties or voices off add extra dimensions to the acting.


In Broken Images, Girish Karnad put to test the abilities of the finest actresses (Shabana Azmi and Arundhati Raja among them), who must interact live with their recorded selves on video monitors. Bahuswar’s Tulika Das directs the first Bengali interpretation of this monodrama where a suddenly famous author, in an interview, faces an inquisition from herself on TV. Srotaswini De translates the text faithfully as Bhāngā Bhāngā Chhabi, but Das sidesteps Karnad’s use of the electronic medium by speaking its lines from the wings, sounding like the character’s conscience or in her head. Legitimate, perhaps, but definitely removing the technological difficulty factor of her talking to her own image. Sukriti Lahori portrays subtly the author’s jealousy and fraudulence. In the studio-theatre setting of Padatik, Karnad’s locale of a TV studio acquires verisimilitude because Lahori does not have to project, which she would have otherwise had to on stage.


The new group Mahabharat Rangbhumi presents Atish Chanda’s latest script, Pollens [sic], in which we eavesdrop on another protagonist with a secret. This man has just returned from cremating his wife, and then we see a Hitchcovian conversation taking place between both of them – naturally, I cannot give away the details here. Chanda intertextualizes it with passages from Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, where he communicates with a gigantic puppet of Mephistopheles, but their integration into the main story needs further work. His own acting, slightly psycho, is commendable except for poor pronunciation of the English blank verse; his singing is noteworthy; and the theatricality is greatly enhanced by Surajit Dey’s mannequins – the one of the wife even consumes a full meal that the husband feeds her!


A young Assamese dramatist-director from Mumbai, Onooja Bhuyan, devised a monologue titled Anubhav that received its Kolkata premiere also at Padatik, enacted by local performer Nilanjana Bala. She related the sorrowful experiences of her character’s life, from which she emerges with resilience – not an uncommon tale, but one that gives hope to women who have suffered similar rejection. Minor rearrangement of the sequence, starting with the childhood episodes and proceeding chronologically, could make us enter her predicament with better understanding. Bhuyan’s precise lighting in such a small space virtually created the other “people” with whom Bala spoke, placed in empty zones where nobody else appeared.


(From The Times of India, 18 January 2019)