SPARE PARTS

Group: Rangroop

Director: Sima Mukhopadhyay

Dramatist: Swapnamoy Chakraborty

Review:

Rangroop’s latest production, Spare Parts, begins like a social comedy but ends up as a political tragedy about India. One expects the latter trajectory from the writer, Swapnamoy Chakraborty, reminding us of his monologue Kushilab, which tracked the history of Bengal politics after Independence.

Spare Parts, however, starts off in a completely different style, seeming for some time like a Bengali adaptation of Manjula Padmanabhan’s Harvest, as a small-time dealer in bicycle parts graduates into a big-time supplier of human organs—with all the grim sardonicism of Padmanabhan. At the interval, I actually thought Chakraborty should acknowledge Padmanabhan, but then the play takes a right turn, as the protagonist’s success in business encourages him to pursue a politician’s lucrative career. The humour dries up totally as director Sima Mukhopadhyay gives full voice to protest and dissent, based on her perception that the current dispensation treats the country as a marketplace to sell every kind of resource it possesses, whether inanimate or human. Everything has a price tag.

The production becomes the perfect vehicle for star comedian Kamal Chattopadhyay in the lead, acting the Indian jugād middleman to the hilt, the rest of the cast orbiting round him. It is equally heartening, therefore, to see him move away from his natural comic flair to the serious, unsavoury persona in the second half. In terms of dramaturgy, I found the opening sequence of the theatre group debating their choice of story extraneous, as well as the periodic choreographic episodes—both existing essentially to pad out the short duration.