Group: Lady Shri Ram College (Delhi)

Dramatist: Sharmishta Das

Directors: Sharmishta and Nupur


Sāri Rāt

Group: Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (Delhi)

Dramatist: Badal Sircar

Director: M. Sindhuja




Atelier’s Campus Theatre Festival saw two Delhi colleges come to Kolkata in its 14th annual season—no small achievement for Atelier, who this year even faced intimidation and an attack on their undergraduate actresses for alleged “antinational” activities in Bareilly, that led to the unpleasant cancellation of their invited performances there.

In Sharmishta Das’s original bilingual script titled Iti, for Lady Shri Ram College’s Dramatic Society, a group of Bengali girls in the early 20th century find freedom in amateur theatre, centred on their enactment of Harishchandra’s Andher Nagari. However, the girl taking the initiative gets married off suddenly; she hopes to return to complete the staging but her in-laws don’t allow it. The actresses playing this role at younger and older ages have a natural quality, but Sharmishta misses the chance to make it that rarity of an all-women dramatis personae, and co-directors Nupur and Sharmishta should have polished the cast’s Bengali diction. Iti need not end here: it contains the seed of a very Tagorean full-length drama.

Fourth Wall Productions of Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies abridged Badal Sircar’s Sārā Rāttir in its Hindi translation of Sāri Rāt into one hour, to comply with the time limit at college competitions. I suggest that director M. Sindhuja create a 90-minute version for shows outside, so that Sircar’s already mystifying play doesn’t suffer so much in the editing. She makes an innovative intervention by splitting the woman into two: the wife who with her bossy husband enter an old house seeking shelter from the storm, and the alter ego who converses with the mysterious owner of the building. She interprets them as reality and fantasy respectively, rather than the usual reading of present and future, or past and present.

How I wish Kolkata could emulate ACT’s festival, which reveals a flourishing campus theatre in Delhi thanks to them!