BHORER BARANDA | TYPIST

Bhorer Bārāndā

Group: Kalyani Natyacharcha Kendra

Dramatist: Pradipta Bhattacharya

Director: Kishore Sengupta

Recommended: ★★★★

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typist

Group: Mukhomukhi

Dramatist: Murray Schisgal

Director: Poulomi Chatterjee

Review:

Two-handers made quite a comeback in Bengali theatre after the pandemic owing to their comparative logistical ease of rehearsal and management. Thus, we have had Kathakriti’s Nayan Kabirer Pālā, Anya Theatre’s Topi, both with two men, and even Ganakrishti’s Ghare Bāire Chiriyākhānā, staging Edward Albee’s yoked-together pair of two-hander halves. The trend continues with Kalyani Natyacharcha Kendra’s Bhorer Bārāndā and Mukhomukhi’s Typist.

Bhorer Bārāndā marks the arrival to the big time of Kalyani-based economics professor Pradipta Bhattacharya, who wrote mostly short plays before. The premise of a Good Samaritan doctor coming to the aid of a single woman returning from hospital on a stormy night reminded me faintly of Takhan Bikel, Mohit Chattopadhyaya’s poignant adaptation of Aleksei Arbuzov’s Old World/An Old-fashioned Comedy. It also resonates of the two brothers talking through the night in the late Amitabha Chakrabarti’s Rāt Kato Holo by Arohee from Bandel. But Bhattacharya creates an original script about loneliness, delicate and empathetic, where nothing “happens” except conversation, avoiding the cliché of a romantic consummation. Post-Covid, it evokes a dawn of hope.

Instead of the usual grimy metropolis, he uses Kangchenjunga as the looming background, symbolizing permanence if not eternity, contrasted with the watchful chimes of an antique grandfather clock indoors symbolizing not-necessarily-accurate human time. To the credit of Kishore Sengupta and Suparna Das (photograph), they act with befitting refinement and quietude, to which Sengupta as director adds much subtextual texture.

 

During the 1960s and 1970s, Murray Schisgal won recognition as an absurdist American playwright, but few remember him now. Mukhomukhi restores him to the minds of Bengali spectators by reviving Soumitra Chatterjee’s adaptation of the early one-act The Typists, retitled as Typist. Twenty years ago, Arun Mukherjee had translated it for Chetana as Khatākhat, featuring Sujan and Nivedita Mukherjee in compelling performances.

Mukhomukhi’s production, directed by Poulomi Chatterjee, stars Debshankar Haldar and herself in the roles of the colleagues who grow older and closer working in the same office over the decades and plotting futilely against their unseen boss with no appreciable change in their conditions except age. Chatterjee’s discovery of Haldar’s marital status is classic. They enact their parts naturalistically—it is not an absurdist text at all—depicting ordinary people’s deadening jobs and lives, who achieve nothing apart from a friendship in a touching presentation of existentialist realism: in the words of one dialogue, “we all live alone in a cruel and lonely world.”