Pulakita Bishād

Group: Ekush Shatak

Director and adapter: Loknath Bandyopadhyay

Dramatist: Channing Cornwall


Kālpanik Bāstab

Group: Samstab

Director:  Sima Mukhopadhyay

Dramatization: Loknath Bandyopadhyay

Source: Zach Helm


Loknath Bandyopadhyay’s fascination with the functioning of the human mind has led him to adapt intriguing recent American stage and screen works for Bengali theatre. For the sake of information transparency, he should acknowledge his sources in the publicity material, more so since he Indianizes them quite faithfully.


Ekush Shatak’s Pulakita Bishād comes from Apartment of the Feign, the only play so far by the young author Channing Cornwall. An autistic man lives with three people, communicating with nobody else – obviously a defence mechanism to cocoon himself from the unpredictable outer world. Things start to change when a neighbour innocently attempts to strike up a friendship. She too feels alone, because her husband commits violence on her whenever he gets drunk. Our hero’s friends warn him to steer clear of her, for she means trouble. And what they fear comes true.


Bandyopadhyay has also directed, the best part of which is (spoiler alert!) that we cannot tell until halfway through that the flatmates are the hero’s imaginary creations: Enakshi Sen, Pradip Chakraborty and Ujjayini Ghosh portray them as perfectly real. The actual protagonists (Gambhira Bhattacharya and Mandira Bandyopadhyay) eventually occupy our full attention with the sad events that ensue, their acting commendably natural, never crossing into sentimentality. My only suggestion is that designer Nil Kaushik should replace the central motif of a splayed palm, because an Australian production has already used it.


None other than Sima Mukhopadhyay directs Samstab’s Kālpanik Bāstab, so one can expect high standards. Bandyopadhyay dramatizes it from the Hollywood film Stranger than Fiction (2006), starring the likes of Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson and Queen Latifah. An ordinary tax officer begins to hear a voice in his head narrating what he does. This absurdist buzz in his bonnet drives him round the bend, consulting psychiatrists to no avail, until he recognizes the voice as that of a famous author whose books end with their hero’s death. Not surprisingly, he panics.


The movie contains some weird characterizations that clicked but do not seem essential here: a literature professor who does not help much, a publisher’s assistant who must ensure that the writer finishes her novel. Bandyopadhyay adds an eccentric youth recalling Tagore’s Bishu-pagal. It is the Pirandellian metaphysics that saves the day, of a character realizing helplessness when his author holds his destiny in her hands. Kinjal Nanda’s lead performance of an obsessive-compulsive falling into sustained bewilderment stands out as it should, for it is literally his play.


(From The Times of India, 14 September 2018)