Medical emergencies count among the great unpredictables in life, though one can predict with absolute accuracy that they will strike every one of us at some time or the other. Two plays deal with this certainty as their subject.
Unprecedentedly, Kalyani Mukhosh has simultaneous English and Bengali versions of their production running: The Uncertainty of Principles and Tarke Bahu Dur respectively. If the fluently bilingual author, Ayan Banerjee, cultivates his talent into full-length drama, he should become a name to reckon with. At present, the play leans towards the shorter and comical sides of the theatrical slide rule, as it explores the polarities of science and superstition in a family facing trauma. Banerjee’s message, to uphold rationality and reject obscurantism, has immediate political applications in our culture and makes it well worth staging at educational institutions. At the same time, he may want to factor in science’s forays into nebulous terrain, for through such research are revolutionary discoveries made. After all, what seemed absurd yesterday has turned into string theory and M-theory today, yet remains empirically unproven. Binary oppositions are too simple, and scientists by definition must keep open minds. Banerjee himself acts effortlessly as the physicist who exposes the religious fraud (who even cites the God particle as evidence of divinity!), and directs the others adequately.
Saubhanik’s Darpanam, dramatized by Ashok Basu from Manab Mukhopadhyay’s story, presents a more conventional scenario where people from diverse backgrounds come to one location – in this case a boarding house near a hospital in Chennai – for the treatment of relatives. As in similar dramatic or cinematic settings like hotels, airports and cruise ships, we can expect to see individual destinies unfold of sorrow or happiness, with strangers helping one another in distress. It also provides ample opportunities to depict a wide range of human traits in the characters, from malicious gossip to compassionate empathy. The director, Chandan Das, capitalizes on this variety with a 15-strong cast equally distributed in stage time portraying Indians from all corners, but cannot resist the inherent temptation in such situations to sentimentalize. Darpanam develops and concludes along foreseeable lines.
(From The Times of India, 19 July 2019)