Group: Bachhar Kuri Pare

Director: Prithunandan Ghose

Dramatization: Arijit Biswas, Prithunandan Ghose


Ebang Andhakār

Source: Jan Otcenasek



Source: Somerset Maugham


Formed 20 years after its mother group Kathik went defunct, Bachhar Kuri Pare has already staged two productions, both dramatized by the founders Arijit Biswas and Prithunandan Ghose from World War II tragic fiction. The first, Ebang Andhakār, resurrects an obscure Czech novel, Jan Otcenasek’s Romeo, Juliet and Darkness, where a teenager gives a Jewish girl refuge in his attic during the Nazi occupation of Prague. They fall in love, and only his best friend knows the secret, as the SS begins its purges against Jews and the Czech resistance.


A simple and poignant tale, it gains greater relevance today by its theme of communal demonization and persecution, and memorability by its uniformly good performances and the rare occurrence in Bengali theatre of live, un-miked singing to Ghose’s original music played by a solitary keyboardist.  Mandira Bandyopadhyay and Kinjal Nanda capture the sweetness of first love, while veterans like Shyamal Chakraborty and Prabir Dutta act the old men drowning their sorrows in drink, one a patriot and the other a collaborator. The boys’ parents (Biswarup Purakayastha, Enakshi Sen) and garrulous friend (Biswajit Ghosh Majumder) add able support.


However, director Ghose must correct costume gaffes. Like most Bengali groups, his cast do not realize that Westerners remove their hats indoors. Furthermore, the hero sports drainpipe trousers and the SS lady official a miniskirt – fashions of 20 years afterwards.


They also revive one of their plays from 20 years before, Priyatamāsu, Indianized from Maugham’s “The Unconquered”, in which a German soldier rapes a French girl who becomes pregnant, later offers to marry her, but after childbirth she kills the baby. Unfortunately, Ghose directs it as over-the-top melodrama, an approach for which a short story just does not allow enough time.


Setting Priyatamāsu in British India during that same period, Biswas and Ghose also distort too much of Maugham’s plot. He described the girl’s parents as pressuring her to accept the German because it would give them access to much-needed food; here they break down, too. Maugham’s isolated, defiant heroine rejected the proposals repeatedly; here, they get married. Although at the end we understand her plan, for too long we receive wrong signals that she has submissively taken the heinous lifeline thrown by rapists even today, to supposedly rescue their victims from shame. And Ghose fails to standardize his English officers’ accents as well.


(From The Times of India, 28 June 2019)