Among the Bengali productions brought to a standstill by Covid are two entertaining comedies by leading purveyors of the genre. Both deal with the impact of new technology on married life.
Durgadas Smrity Sangha’s Biswās Kari Nā features the comic duo of Kamal Chattopadhyay (also the director) and Nandini Bhowmik as husband and wife in Ujjwal Chattopadhyay’s play warning us against phone scamsters. The opening scene is a gem of wedded strife, displaying the perfect chemistry between Kamal and Nandini as they spar on domestic tiffs. She suspects infidelity because he constantly goes to the bathroom to take calls, and he loses his cool at her nonstop nagging. More details about his secretive activities emerge, until she herself gets entangled in a Blue Whale imbroglio. Unhappily, the development never reaches the high points of the first half, as a few unnecessary characters come and go, and the menace of Blue Whale loses its sting in a schematic tying-up of loose ends.
Lok-krishti’s Punarāy Ruby Rāy depicts the lead couple already on the verge of estrangement due to the husband’s habitual job-hopping. As a robotics engineer working on androids, he then moulds his next creation in her image and passes it off as her twin, visiting from the US. Dramatist Jeet Satragni uses this, one of the oldest tricks in the comedic manual, for multiple instances of mistaken identity resulting in apprehensions of infidelity (again). Phalguni Chatterjee directs from his vast comic experience, but he could improve the ending by just mentioning Ruby instead of showing her. Ultimately, Ruby Rāy is Monalisa Chatterjee’s fun vehicle for a superb double role, her jerky actions coordinated mechanically, only a few American allusions and pronunciations needing correction. For identical aims of authenticity, Neel Koushik’s laboratory set demands greater verisimilitude rather than colourful fantasy.