Dramatist: Arthur Miller


Quarantine (Bengali)

Group: Prachyo

Director: Buddhadeb Das



All My Sons (Hindi)

Group: Unicorn Actors Studio

Director: Happy Ranajit


While that modern classic, Death of a Salesman, continues returning in Bengali incarnations owing to its growing relevance, Arthur Miller’s other plays have also seen revivals lately. A View from the Bridge takes a new shape in Prachyo’s Quarantine, where Kaberi Basu Indianizes the original milieu of Italian-American illegal immigrants to the West Bengal–Bangladesh border. Rudraprasad Sengupta had adapted it memorably into the Muslim dockworkers’ community in Kolkata Port on Nandikar’s Gotrahin in 1996, but Prachyo and Basu contemporize it, bringing the international trauma of refugees into our immediate context.

The group leader, Biplab Bandyopadhyay, took Basu on a fact-finding trip to the border, where they met a humanitarian activist, who makes it into the dramatis personae although Miller had no such character. She and Miller’s lawyer-narrator form the objective correlative through whom we view the issue of Bangladeshi migrants, both Hindu and Muslim, crossing over without papers to earn a living in India. Miller’s tragedy ended with the death of Eddie (Edayet here), whereas Basu adds another horrific assault and murder that literally seems overkill to me.

Debutant director Buddhadeb Das impresses with his precise editing of the scenes and a novel touch of everyone holding up their hands in reflex at megaphone announcements, but fails in his bland use of audience participation and to curb Bengali actors’ bad habit of onstage smoking. Debesh Roychowdhury (photo) imposes his robust traits in the lead as only he can, Suparna Das creating a relatively muted contrast opposite him as his wife. Bandyopadhyay and Chaiti Ghoshal (the social worker) present the educated urbanite class in “civil”, ineffectual detachment.


I looked forward to Unicorn Actors Studio (Delhi) perform All My Sons in Hindi because nobody produces Miller’s first significant play. It became so unbearable that I left at the intermission, something that I try not to do. Despite the timely subject of capitalists making profits by ignoring safety controls in warplane manufacturing, Happy Ranajit directed in such a lifeless manner that he merely exposed its melodramatic core. The cast, made to wear period American dress, had no clue how to conduct themselves. A large tree branch lay on the stage for no reason, betraying callous disregard for green concerns.

I have heard that Ranajit teaches acting at the National School of Drama. If true, I shudder to think what the young trainees there are imbibing. Just as worrisome, he had received the invitation from the National Theatre Festival organized by the Government of West Bengal. This indicates that artistic quality does not figure in their selection of productions. Who knows what other factors play a part.


16 November 2023