GARAL

Group: Rangroop

Director: Sima Mukhopadhyay

Dramatization: Mainak Sengupta

Source: Sayantani Putatunda

Review:

Under the commitment and direction of Sima Mukhopadhyay, Rangroop continues to place women at the centre of its plays, as exemplified by its latest, Garal. Based on the short story by Sayantani Putatunda, the production has received a taut dramatization from Mainak Sengupta, and belongs to an increasing body of recent scripts which explore close mother-son relationships that culminate unfortunately in murderous assaults on vulnerable young women. Notable predecessors include Like Comment Share by Swati Roy of the Bengali group Oihik, and the award-winning Hollywood film debut Searching directed by Aneesh Chaganty.

Putatunda sets her story in an elderly couple’s dilapidated house, eyed by promoters. The wife runs the impoverished home, her immediate troubles revolving around her ailing, nearly bedridden husband and an infestation of rodents who regularly scatter all the kitchen utensils. The old family retainer helps her, but for reasons not divulged fully the husband does not trust him and refuses to allow him near himself. His fear of being poisoned and her references to the need of rat poison form the red herrings in the title of the drama.

The real concern of Putatunda and Mukhopadhyay appears somewhat later in the figure of the couple’s young son, who prefers to lead his carefree life as far away from his parents as possible. His irresponsibility, involvement with bad company, and his mother’s protectiveness toward him lead to an unexpectedly harrowing turn of events and his escape from certain arrest. Years after, a friend of his shows up, bringing news from him in Dubai. The subsequent sudden conclusion comes even more unpredictably and leaves us thinking, to join the dots in a state of shock.

Mukhopadhyay scores yet again, not just as a tight director but equally as the indulgent mother who takes a strong decision. She gets fine support in character from Jayanta Mitra (the father) and Jagannath Chakraborty (the retainer). The two younger men have secondary roles, which they present according to the requirements of the plot.

(From The Times of India, 13 March 2020)