Group: Nat-Ranga

Director: Sohan Bandopadhyay



Dramatist: Amar Gangopadhyay

Source: Syed Mustafa Siraj














MithyeCar-er Satyi

Dramatist: Sohan Bandopadhyay


Another long-lived troupe celebrates its golden jubilee this year, more praiseworthy because smaller groups do not have the resources that established larger names can command, making it extremely difficult for them to continue their activities regularly. Sushanta Bandyopadhyay founded Nat-Ranga in 1972 but after his death, his son Sohan did not let the group disband (as so often occurs following the departure of a leader) and has kept it going despite his own screen commitments.

In Bandyopadhyay’s honour, Nat-Ranga has revived one of his older productions, Khaddā (1979), dramatized by Amar Gangopadhyay from Syed Mustafa Siraj’s short story Urochithi. It is an unusual play, set around 100 years ago in the remote village of Kaludihi with mostly Muslim inhabitants. One day a postman arrives—which hardly ever happened there—carrying a postcard from a place called Khadda for a man whom nobody can identify, the brother of the now-ailing letter writer. Enquiries lead to an old woman’s remembrance of a boy who had disappeared many years ago. And so a team of villagers, who believe they should never let one of their own die all alone, sets out for Khadda, which becomes virtually an allegorical quest for the unknown.

Sohan Bandopadhyay directs with appreciable control over every department of theatre to represent the authentic rural life of the community down to the minutest detail (see photo), coordinating collectively enacted performance, song and dance, Saumik-Piyali’s set and Badal Das’s lighting. In his admirable tradition of preparing historical memorabilia, Sohan has designed tickets in the form of an authentic postcard from the East India Company sporting its insignia.

Nat-Ranga’s previous production, MithyeCar-er Satyi (punning on kār and car) lies at the opposite end of the dramatic spectrum: a slight comedy written and directed by Sohan. It reminded me of Moliere’s three Doctor farces featuring medical satire, mistaken identities and clever maids, except that here the physician resorts to some falsehood to rescue a senior dame in distress from the clutches of predatory locals eyeing her property. Rather distastefully, the first half relies too much on crude dialogue referring to the alimentary canal and bowel movements. Sohan himself steps in after the interval with superior acting as the doctor, to save the day as well as the play.


19 December 2022