Ami Anukul-da Aar Ora – Failure of a promising play

Posted by Kaahon Desk On March 14, 2019

Ashoknagar Natyamukh on 3rd February 2019 evening, presented ‘Ami Anukul-da Aar Ora’, directed by Abhi Chakraborty, at Girish Mancha. This play, written by Bratya Basu, deals with surrealism and in the light of that an almost-absence of a stable narrative. As the curtain rises, an almost dark and empty stage comes into the view, with a transparent net dividing the stage into two halves across the depth of the stage and an electrocardiogram image projected on the net creating the ambience of an intensive care unit department of some hospital. Beyond the net at a side is a hospital-bed, upon which lies a bandaged body. The other side is kept empty to project geometric designs on the backdrop. A bizarre chair lies on either side of the front stage! Such a surreal stage is first invaded by a completely real nurse. Through her conversation with some hospital official over phone, the audience is informed that the patient met with an accident and is left unconscious and half-dead. After the nurse leaves the stage, ‘Anukul-da’ enters addressing the patient as ‘Somesh’. The patient’s subconscious, responding to him, comes out and engages with him in a conversation at the front stage.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

The rest of the play stands upon the conversations and exchanges of mutual feelings between the subconscious, i.e. Somesh, and Anukul-da and two other characters later. It is sometimes in the form of a dialogue, a soliloquy or lamentation or even poetry. It seems to be an illogical prattle at times and a lethal weapon of satire the very next moment. Surrealism intends to bring out the absurdity that inhabits the unknown depths of human mind, and ‘Anukul-da’ fares pretty well in that job. The construction of the character and its abstract activities so enthrall us and strike us inexpressibly that the conflict within the character of Somesh becomes evident. At the very moment when the abstract figure of the play, through the interactions between Somesh and Anukul-da, is tacitly being built, Anukul-da leaves the stage and a lady takes his place. She directly charges him of several accusations, and in their conversation, issues of Somesh’s married life and its failures come up! The audience is discomposed at this moment, wondering, if the pure surrealism is now turning towards a narrative. Is this play too trying to accommodate itself within those recurrent plays where the characters confront the past in a dream or imagination? In fact, to some extent Somesh’s past is brought up by Anukul-da as well but it continuously oscillated between abstract and concrete. Unfortunately, it was starkly missing on the lady’s part. On the contrary, it provokes us to think whether this scene actually tends towards catering the popular taste! Next come the third and last character to meet Somesh, anticipating the most surprising moment in the play. The most awaited character in the world of theatre since the 50s is ‘Godot’ (from Samuel Beckett’s classic play ‘Waiting for Godot’). And now this prolonged wait ends at last! The Bengal stage witnesses Godot’s arrival, with his heroic gesture and unbearably abusive language! If the sole purpose of this scene is to represent human beings’ intense desire to get rid of the sheer meaninglessness of existence, it has barely succeeded, since the loud portrayal of theatrical exaggeration has dulled its effectiveness. Therefore, the soaring expectation felt at the beginning, seems to dip in the middle and despite its best efforts fails to cope up towards the end! The play which could have been a seminal work of introspection, ends up being apparently an incomplete and disengaged clusters of words! It is doubtful whether the cause lies in the text, or the play adaptation, or in both. But compared to all past works of the director, it is undeniably far more mature and economical (the play runs for 90 minutes excluding the interval), and at least not served wrapped in some mystery or romance. The plot presumably has resulted from the spontaneity of a conscious mind which is capable of inviting divergent interpretations from the audience.

Jab Saher Hamara Sota Hai- A powerful theatre production

All the actors are equally refined, trained and powerful; although among the three visitors, only Anupam Chanda as ‘Anukul-da’ has aptly pictured the essence of surrealism of the play in his performance. The calculated stage design by Soumik blends perfectly with the overall theme of the play. The light design is stunning no doubt but is more reminiscent of science fiction rather than surrealism. The music has an implicit presence in the play, not an emphatic one. Taking all things into consideration, the play emanates a mixed feelings and in spite of having all the potentials of a successful play, fails considerably in establishing any means of communication with the audience.


Anjan Nandi
A science student, postdoctoral researcher, writer-translator of science oriented popular literature and a dedicated audience of theatre for last two decades, he has observed many changes in Bengali theatre from a very close proximity. He is a regular contributor in Bengali Wikipedia and engages himself deeply in photography and cinema.

Translation: Rishav Dutta

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