Once halls started taking bookings again post-lockdown, several groups strategized a pragmatic solution to their unpreparedness after the long, forced hiatus by joining hands to present double bills of one-act plays. The programme under review exemplifies this probably temporary phenomenon.
Sima Mukhopadhyay, director of Rangroop, has donned the mantle of Bengali theatre’s outspoken non-partisan activist on topical sociopolitical issues, curating newly-written drama carefully for protest rather than interpreting older works appropriately. She discovers in Tamojit Roy a promising playwright on Janmadin Mrityudin, well worth viewing. Roy takes on the local land-construction-party criminal nexus without pulling punches, on the anniversary of an environmentalist journalist’s murder for having exposed the wetlands mafia. Although he has died, his mother and lover (Mamata Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Pan in contrasting intense performances) face possible co-option by the system to keep things quiet. Janmadin Mrityudin brings to the surface many disturbing questions well known to us all; it begs an Act Two to arrive at a more complex conclusion.
Samstab chooses Octopus Ltd., one of Mohit Chattopadhyaya’s typically short 1990s plays in which he pitted humanism and imagination against exploitative reality. Here he targets corporate sponsorship, as the eponymous global company magnanimously sponsors an unemployed couple’s wedded life (with some fine print in the contract, naturally). But in a characteristically Mohitesque scenario, the pair (depicted unassumingly by Susnata Bhattacharjee and Kankabati Bandyopadhaya) elude the clutching tentacles to remain in their dream world. In such a symbolical setting, director Partha Sarathi Chandra should not have allowed a suggestive map of the US on the backdrop: we have enough unscrupulous capitalists in our incredible country.