Anahuta – A competent theatre production with overused storyline and form

Posted by Kaahon Desk On October 9, 2019

In the third section of Theatre Parvan organized by Machar Manush, Anahuta, Sangstab’s latest production, was staged at Tapan Theatre on last 15th September. Written by Snehashish Bhattacharya, the play is directed by Seema Mukhopadhyay. The name that is almost synonymous to Sangstab is that of Dwijen Bandopadhyay. The two names are so attached to each other that it is still impossible for us to think of them separately. Therefore, watching a Sangstab production naturally reminds us of him and his absence is strongly felt all over. That the present members of Sangstab are committed to keep the flow of productions unmarred is what gives us joy and hope.

The basic plot of the play is very common in novels, stories, films and plays. Retired military officer Nirupam Goswami is presently a successful businessman. He leads a happy family life with his wife Sujata and their only child Debopam. In their happy family life all of a sudden there appears a stranger. Everything goes awry at once. Their lives are at a serious stake because this stranger claims that he is the real Nirupam, the head of the family, thereby husband to Sujata and the one living with them is an imposter named Mainak. He further claims that he fought the enemies in the Kargil war as the Major of the 237th battalion at Dras sector and Mainak now-dressed-as-Nirupam was a subordinate under his command in the same battalion. He goes on producing multiple proofs to justify his claims. The police are summoned. And the feud ends up in court at last to find out whether the claims by this stranger are credible or not. But is the court truly capable of distinguishing between truth and trickery always? Truth lies beyond the boundaries of court. A deeper truth rests beneath all the truths of this world. We tend to overlook that deeper truth only to look for the external ones. And that undiscovered, unwanted truth may turn out to be the real one! Here Sujata (wife) very well knows what the actual truth is and confesses it to the stranger. And in her confession does the stranger find his victory.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

The writer has written the play in a way that a suspense builds up as the play starts. The comic thrill which ensues as the stranger suddenly arrives in the midst of an ongoing romantic conversation between the maid Menoka and driver Yudhisthir, gradually takes the shape of a crime thriller. And the mystery unfolds right in the crime-thrilleresque fashion. But the result could be anticipated from the beginning (the reason might be the common tropes of such narratives). The play ends with that obvious result and therefore it loses the appeal as the story progresses. The second half seems weaker than the first one. The scene where in the absence of their clients the prosecutors of the two conflicting parties engage in a prolonged discussion in his house appears insignificant in relation to the play’s framework and hinders the natural flow of the narrative. It seems that the scene has only been constructed to spread some ideological and downright political messages. There are some absurdities in the narrative of the play (which we generally take for granted in a commercial cinema), which the director has tried to execute effectively but do not seem to have convincingly succeeded. But that the play has entertained the audience is loud and clear.

Sanjib Sarkar is a prominent and popular actor of these days. He is equally very free and easy in stage, small screen or big screen. He has created an individual style of his own which is slightly loud and somewhat exaggerated in expression (which is not overacting at all). He accommodates his characters within his style fittingly. His portrayal of the stranger in this play has been of no exception. But practicing same method over a long period of time does engender a touch of mannerism. Amrita Mukhopadhyay suits well in the role of Sujata. She has competently portrayed the two-tier character on stage. How adept she is at her talent is expressed in the scene of her meeting with the stranger alone. Parthasarathi Chandra’s comic acting in the role of Yudhistir is very natural and instinctive in terms of vocal and bodily gestures. Kankabati Bandopadhyay has done justice to the scope her character of Menoka has provided her with.

Nothing 2 Say- A Lively Commendable Experimental Collective TheatreThe realistic stage design by Sandip Suman Bhattacharya is delightful. It has been credibly designed with furniture and other equipment with ample space left to act as well. Such careful stage design helps in keeping the flow of acting intact. But keeping cut-outs of books instead of original books on bookshelf seems very inappropriate especially in such realistic stage design! Thanks to Badal Das’s conscious light design, light and shade have been effectively represented onstage making the whole play run smoothly. The wonderful amalgamation of silence, sound and melody and sense of measurement in Dishari Chakraborty’s music has perfectly expressed the central theme of the play. Md. Ali and Sanjay Pal’s make-up and Sumita Bandopadhyay’s dress design have added credibility to the characterization of the play.

At a time when the present state power is relying on specific authentic documents for identification of the individual and therefore putting him in an existential crisis altogether, presenting a play on a topic of such gravity univocally asks for an ovation. We sincerely do hope that Sangstab will keep up their good work and we will get to see more such wonderful works by them in near future.

Pradip Datta
A post-graduation diploma holder of the Department of Media Studies, University of Calcutta, he has been a theatre activist in Bengal for the last twenty five years. He is a freelance journalist by profession. Besides theatre, his passion includes recitation, audio plays and many more.

Translation- Rishav Dutta

Read this review in Bengali.

বাংলাতে পড়তে ক্লিক করুন।

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