KALPURUSH

Group: Garia Krishti

Source: Samares Mazumdar

Dramatizer-Director: Sitangshu Khatua

Review:

As the auditoriums gradually reopened this year, Bengali groups began to revive their productions that had remained suspended since March 2020. Garia Krishti’s Kālpurush presents the eponymous third novel of Samares Mazumdar’s acclaimed political tetralogy. In it, he showed the Left Front’s decline into corruption and intimidation during the 1980s, after dealing with the Marxist and Naxal movements in the first two novels. Director Sitangshu Khatua’s decision to dramatize this particular work is ambitious because of the process involved in dramatizing a novel, though one may speculate why this one (with the Left a spent force now) and not its successor, Maushalkāl, much more immediate to us—but also politically risky.

Mazumdar’s protagonist, Animesh, a product of Communist student politics in the 1960s and 1970s, reappears here after his release from jail as a broken man, disabled by torture, reduced to living in a slum with his working wife and lumpen son Arka. The play’s progress gets broken, too, split in halves between Khatua’s agonized portrayal of Animesh hopelessly mired in idealistic and traumatic flashbacks, and Rick Deb’s frustrated Arka, who quite suddenly undergoes a positivist change of heart to create a people’s utopia in the slum. By ending optimistically, Khatua may hope to motivate community renewal, but also seems to have consciously altered Mazumdar’s disillusionment.

The rest of the troupe perform capably, many of them doubling roles, led by Nayana Saha as Animesh’s wife, labouring so hard at eking an income for the family that she casts an adverse reflection on his ineffectuality. Why do so many Bengali literary heroes live melancholically in the past, unable to do anything at all to ameliorate their present?