PARABOLA SIR | NITANTA BYAKTIGATA

Parabola Sir

Group: Kolkata Playmakers

Dramatist: Tirthankar Chanda, from Narayan Sanyal’s novel

Director: Ram Mukhopadhyay

 

Nitānta Byaktigata

Group: Curtain Call

Dramatist: Sounava Bose, from Narayan Sanyal’s Āmi Netājike Dekhechhi

Director: Tirthankar Chattopadhyay

Review:

Narayan Sanyal’s books have powered two new dramatizations, both by playwrights with a serious bent, befitting Sanyal’s deeper (as opposed to popular) writing. Spectators who bemoan an absence of inspiring content in Bengali theatre may see these productions of his fiction and non-fiction respectively from the 1970s to feel better.

Kolkata Playmakers stages Sanyal’s novel Parabola Sir, scripted by Tirthankar Chanda, about an idealistic maths teacher symbolically named Satyaban, who refuses to have any truck with unethical offers and practices, obviously ruining his career prospects and leading to domestic discord too. Regardless, he does not compromise his principles and goes to the extent of leaving home on his own in his advanced years. In the light of our scandal in schoolteacher recruitment, and when the majority of us accept corruption as a part of life, this play makes a telling impact. The second half builds in intensity to a touching conclusion where a former student calls herself Satyaban’s daughter and stands by him financially.

Chanda inserts the inventive device of a narrator who functions as Satyaban’s inner voice. Subho Gupta Bhaya and Papri Basu give moving portrayals of the teacher and his anxious but devoted wife Sabitri. In terms of direction, Ram Mukhopadhyay could replace the hackneyed music soundtrack and improve the very poor sets.

 

Curtain Call’s Nitānta Byaktigata originates in Āmi Netājike Dekhechhi, dramatized by Sounava Bose, who loves research-based works. Sanyal wrote it on the Rani Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army fighting the Burma campaign in April-May 1945. Historically, Netaji retreated from Rangoon to Moulmein and Bangkok during the British counter-offensive against the Japanese, but Nitānta Byaktigata focuses on the personal lives of five women soldiers at that time and their firsthand insight into Netaji as a leader and father figure, leading up to a rousing finale.

Such a text demands utmost fidelity to authentic detailing for credibility. Director Tirthankar Chattopadhyay should rectify some dialogues that sound contemporary to us, re-draw the highly inaccurate map of Burma (otherwise we might attribute the defeat to bad INA cartography) and consider more appropriate dress for Bindiya Ghosh (the renegade) in her civilian metamorphosis. But the performances of all the actresses (Monalisa Chatterjee as Arati Nair the narrator, Nibedita Bhattacharya, Mary Acharya and Payel Lahiri, as well as Bindiya) raise no complaints whatsoever.