Group: South Kolkata Shrine

Source: Swapnamoy Chakraborty

Dramatization: Debasish Mukhopadhyay

Director: Amit Bhattacharya



Suffocation (Bengali)

Group: Behala Anudarshi

Source: Jit Sarkar

Dramatization: Nataraj Das

Director: Sumana Chakraborty


The relative paucity of new Bengali playtexts leads many groups to dramatize short stories. Swapnamoy Chakraborty’s Chakshudān receives this treatment from Debasish Mukhopadhyay for South Kolkata Shrine. Set in Jharkhand, it fixes the spotlight on a little-known Santal ritual whereby patuyā artists give mukti to the dead by painting eyes on a pat enabling them to “see” in the afterlife. On his way to conduct another such rite of passage, Jadu Chitrakar meets a young TV crew who, fascinated by his vocation, promise him money to do an Independence Day special for them when they return. They don’t come back. In the resounding climax, Jadu’s son paints an eye—I shall not disclose where.

Directed by Amit Bhattacharya, who also delivers the most rounded performance as Jadu, Chakshudān depicts the miserable condition of rural artists driven out of work by the screen, and makes a telling comment on our national obsession with events and festivals. The lengthy detailing of the internal affairs and political nexus of the media channel, absent from the source, do not add much to the impact.


Behala Anudarshi’s Suffocation comes from a story by Jit Sarkar, dramatized by Nataraj Das. This one-act revenge murder mystery calls out for an introductory episode or two, by way of explaining why the criminal takes the very odd and naïve decision to consult a psychiatrist after his deed. To reveal any more would be a spoiler. Director Sumana Chakraborty enacts a double role as the doctor and the avenger, with distinct voices for each, which tend to merge toward the end and break the illusion she created. Bratin Gangopadhyay portrays the antagonist convincingly, only as much as the flawed plot allows.


11 November 2023