Group: Lokkrishti

Director: Prasun Bhattacharjya

Dramatist: Jeet Satragni



Group: Natyajan

Director: Kamal Chattopadhyay

Dramatist: Ujjwal Chattopadhyay



A little bit of magic – some may call it pure fantasy, others simply luck – connects two new Bengali plays in both of which a commoner becomes a celebrity and his day-to-day routine undergoes a sea change.


In Lokkrishti’s Chhumantar, written by Jeet Satragni, a middle-aged man lives an unexceptional existence, reconciled to his shortcomings, acceptance of them having buried whatever aspirations he may have had long ago. His wife scolds him, his colleagues at work give him scant attention. All of a sudden, an advertising talent scout spots him and their team chooses him as the face of a campaign built around the quintessential ordinary man. This ad takes off so well that he gets a film offer from Mumbai. He does not need to look back now – and therein lies the problem. He learns, like so many protagonists of similar tales over the years, that stardom comes at a heavy personal cost.


The theme sounds serious, like Lokkrishti’s immediately preceding tragedy, Misfit, but Prasun Bhattacharjya’s direction keeps Chhumantar light and entertaining, until the entrance of such figures as Fame, Wealth and Power turns it into a didactic morality play. If we overlook this, leading man Phalguni Chatterjee’s experience lifts it to stimulating levels, complemented by the natural acting of his wife (Rumki Chatterjee) and daughter (Ankita Majumdar). Phalguni presents a distinctly different personality from that of the professor slipping into dementia in his self-authored and more sophisticated Misfit, displaying his versatility, but Rumki should avoid getting typecast in the character of the long-suffering wife. Abir Chatterjee makes a guest appearance.


Natyajan’s Charlie features a mediocre stand-up comedian who scrapes together a living doing interludes in variety shows and grows close to a ragpicker girl who loves reading whatever scraps of paper she finds. His hero, Chaplin, comes to him in a reverie, leading him to improve dramatically. Unhappily, Ujjwal Chattopadhyay’s haphazard script and random plotting do not create one of his better efforts: he encourages imitation of Chaplin rather than comic originality, and the Naxal politics of Charlie’s wife seems quite superfluous. Despite Kamal Chattopadhyay’s direction and eponymous performance, and the always assured acting of Nandini Bhowmik (as the girl), the weak text just cannot support his farcical or choreographical garnish.


{From The Times of India, 21 December 2018)