What happens to the close college friendships that disappear into the mists of time? Does destiny toss one of them back into your life to see what you can make of it now? Or do you actively seek out that past person to bring some meaning into an existence collapsing around you? Two Bengali plays go down these unpredictable roads that materialize at life’s intersections.
Saubhanik’s Kāktāliya – which means coincidence – finds a researcher on pavement dwellers herself looking for a flat, where she bumps into her old classmate, now a filmmaker, with the same flat-hunting objective. Double coincidence: he is shooting a movie about the homeless on the streets. Fact meets fiction and romance gets rekindled, but personal differences in perspective create major hurdles.
Arupshankar Maitra’s play had possibilities, but the quest for comic relief lowers the standards: a broker and a peeping-Tom neighbour, though themselves well acted, contribute little to the dramatic development. The director and lead actor, Chandan Das, and Ranjini Chattopadhyay as the heroine give capable performances, overshadowed by Ena Sengupta’s more complex dual role as the pavement dweller.
Ajit Gangopadhyay regularly adapted foreign works for group theatre in the second half of the 20th century before his untimely death. The relatively young Natya-srijani does him a service by reviving one of his originals, Anupamā Ekti Meyer Nām, in which the protagonist leaves her alcoholic husband and tries to follow the tracks of her college hero, who dedicated his career to improving the conditions of the socially underprivileged.
Indrajit Paul edits the long script to manageable proportions while updating it to present circumstances, and directs the fairly large cast adequately, but other than Anupama’s own character, some uneven acting mars the show. Paul’s emphasis on rectifying the environmental degradation surrounding us grants this production an unusual touch.
(From The Times of India, 19 April 2019)