Group: Nirbak Abhinay Academy

Dramatist-director: Suranjana Dasgupta



Group: Theatre (Dhaka)

Director: Tropa Majumdar

Dramatist: Lee Blessing


Narir Mancha, Nandipat’s festival around International Women’s Day of women directors, reached an auspicious tenth anniversary this year. Two of the new plays zeroed in on psychological troubles of their dramatis personae. Nirbak Abhinay Academy’s Wheelchair, written, directed and acted by Suranjana Dasgupta, traces the wrecked lives of a couple 16 years after the husband became wheelchair-bound following a car accident. His frustration manifests itself outwardly in cruelty, violence and attempts to exert control over others like the domestic workers, but gradually we realize that the wife, upon whom all the household responsibilities lie, suffers from hallucinations caused by the stress.


Dasgupta visualizes these hallucinations eerily well and successfully builds up the tension, alongside some red herrings, to its inevitable climax, but she can perfect the delineation by adding a scene that explains why the man does absolutely nothing constructive with his ample time at home. The present short duration allows scope for such background exposition. As an actor handicapped onstage by the physical disability, Anjan Dev performs the shrewd but often vindictive husband excellently, sometimes overshadowing his apparently normal spouse played by Dasgupta. Tanmoy Majumder and Anindita Biswas provide good support as the helps.


One of Bangladesh’s oldest groups, Theatre (Dhaka), brought Mijarul Quayes’s Mukti, adapted from an all-women American drama, Independence by Lee Blessing. A family reunion takes place when the oldest of three daughters responds to her middle sister’s call to visit their slightly unhinged mother, but the happiness rapidly sours. The director, Tropa Majumdar, seems to take a moral position for filial relationships at all costs, and against children leaving parents, even if the latter curb the former’s freedom. I wonder if Blessing intended this conservative interpretation. He certainly portrayed the oldest daughter as lesbian, about which Quayes keeps silent, presumably not to rattle the sensibilities of Dhaka society. But as a result, Tamanna Islam’s characterization loses its important back story, while the middle sister (Tanjum Ara Polly) becomes conventionally sentimentalized. The best lines go to the youngest sister, a bohemian artist (Tanveen Sweety), who spices up the conversations every time. Ferdausi Majumdar, Theatre’s veteran leading lady, faces no challenge at all in the role of the mother.


(From The Times of India, 15 March 2019)