Bansh Keno Jhare – Over – dramatic old – school light but no – pretension entertainment

Posted by Kaahon Desk On May 31, 2019

‘Bansh Keno Jhare’, a Bengali play written and directed by Rishi Mukhopadhyay and presented by ‘Ekush Shatak’, was staged at the Lady Ranu Mookherjee auditorium of Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata, on last 5th March 2019.

The phrase ‘Bansh Keno Jhare’ is a part of a familiar Bengali proverb, suggestive of inviting multiple problems at once. The title of the play itself reveals the humorous tone of the play! But actually it is a murder mystery only cased in humor. The protagonist of the play, Pocha, is a security guard by profession. The play begins with an early morning squabble between Pocha and his wife Jhimli. On the other hand, a soothsayer monk, accompanied by his attendant, has turned up in front of the local tea stall- but is he an imposter? In the meantime, people come to know that a man has been found murdered at the nearby temple premises, with whom Pocha’s brother-in-law Boltu had a strife regarding ploughing at village. The strife was due to a ploughing contract and pondered over – resulting into So is Boltu the culprit? Amid the mutual accusations and altercations, one more person gets killed and another goes missing. The situation intensifies and even the Police show up! And at last, the mystery is unraveled at the concluding scene, with the culprit exposed.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

Although the characters and flow of events in the play resound with indigeneity, foreign influences are hard to overlook. The murder was already hinted in the opening scene of squabble. Furthermore, the dialogues of the monk Jatashankar and the conversation between his aide Kali and Boltu are all so punctuated with inconsistency that they are easily identified by the audience and pondered over – resulting into the complete absorption of the audience into the mystery. Even though the denouement is rather abrupt, with multitudinous questions dangling all over, the play does harbor an exceptional appeal as a comedy thriller. What adds more to the play is its length; the play, with all its events unfolded and a recess in between, winds up within 90 minutes! That the makers could snub the temptation of lengthening the play with more comedic proportions is truly remarkable!

Another commending attribute of the play is its honesty, with no touch of pretentiousness. The makers have intended to present a simple entertaining piece of work and in spite of numerous opportunities, have attached no social or political gravitas to it. But there are certain reasons that impede the honest enjoyment of the play.  First and foremost of which is, the style of acting! All the actors in this play are always so obsessed with delivering dialogues at the top of their voices that they seem to overlook that they are performing in an enclosed space, not an open field! Jhimli and Jatashankar were primarily tasked with maintaining the humorous overtone of the play. Whereas Jhimli has been classified as the stereotyped pugnacious housewife of earlier audio-plays, ready to strike his husband at a moment and wailing at another; Jatashankar fails to keep up with the credibility of the overall comedic tone. The stage has been designed by the director himself; parting it chiefly into two parts- with Pocha and Jhimli’s room on one side of it, where behind the bedstead a shelf-like appliance is covered with a shiny plastic – apparently for no reason! In the room the ironed clothes are so loosely hung up on the rope that it seems the stage has been very carelessly designed. On the other side of the stage is a tea-stall, which is although very reasonably adorned with tattered Bengali movie posters, a rather glaring picture of one Indian-born pornstar arrests the attention a bit too much. It appears that a pale one would be more helpful in blending in with the overall presentation. Swapan Bandyopadhyay’s music too misses the contemporariness the play demands, like introducing the sound of motorcycle in the background for a dialogue and putting up a mime act with it seem very redundant. Badal Das’s light design is perfect, bringing the necessary connection between the two parts of the stage aptly. But the overall production has an old-school tinge over it which in turn downgrades the quality of the play altogether.

Bansh Keno Jhare –Overdramatic old-school light but no-pretention entertainment

It is indisputable that there is a demand for light entertainment in Bengali theatre, and works like this cater to that demand largely. But the title of the play in a way so propels our attention towards the ambiguous, light humorous overtones, that the play might just miss the high-brow attentions! The play can appeal to a broader audience if it introduces a more inclusive title, a rather modern acting, less stereotypes and bit more care towards the minute details of the production.


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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