Bhoy – A pseudo – serious and apparently modern play of average standard

Posted by Kaahon Desk On February 21, 2019

‘Bhoy’ is a Thealight group production directed by Atanu Sarkar featuring Bratya Basu. Its first staging was on this 31st January in Minerva Theatre. In the first scene we get to see a pair of husband-wife, who have come to travel in the jungle of Saranda. The forest bungalow manager has brought them to the bungalow room. Hotel manager as a comedic trope as mostly seen in theatre and cinema has seen no exception in this play. But when the husband also indulges in comic acting, the believability of the husband-wife relationship becomes doubtful. It is evident from the manager’s talks that there’s a reason of fear in the bungalow – but what is that, Ghost or Maoist? The manager tells a two-year-old story, a story of the vanishing of a couple from the bungalow. It is known that one of them lived in Singur and the other, in Nandigram.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

The play starts with all these elements and ten-twelve minutes into the play, the audience gets confused. Where’s the play heading becomes a thing of conjecture for the audience. Coupled with a ten minutes’ break, the play with almost two hours of its runtime skillfully manages to do this exact thing. The audience is made confused from all angles therefore, coming to a conclusion is nearly impossible. Characteristically, it’s is one of those plays where one or more characters confront their past in their dream or fantasy. The modified state of past and present creates a conflict. This conflict is resolved at the end where the character or characters come to their senses. Here also, the husband Shubhankar is confronted with ghost-like past (which appears more like a witch). Racy dialogues are exchanged to entertain the audience. By following the thread of Shubhankar’s political past, the ideologies of opportunistic politics especially the ideologies of Marxist Communist party have been chastised heavily. It is done to an extent that the sole purpose of the whole play seems to be only this. Apart from the hollow brandishing of this irrelevant political discourse in modern times, the play also confuses Shubhankar’s identity. The audience is made confused about the number of characters Shubhankar portrays. When Ms. Witch is engrossed in the conversation with Shubhankar about apparent betrayal (both personal and political), a certain Mr. Ghost informs Shubhankar’s extramarital affairs to his wife Sima. Tension and accusations ensue between the couple followed by level-headedness, compromisation and comic ending. The identity of the spectres are left for the audience to unravel. Is this conversation a dramatic reality or just a dream? – the confusion persists. Is this overall confusing state intentional or to establish ‘we are all confused in this age” motto, we don’t know for sure as well?

The lack of clarity is visible also in plot construction. Shubhankar comes across as a 30 years old young man but the whole calculation goes for a toss when it is known that Mandal Commission’s orders were made effective in Shubhankar’s childhood. This confusion is terminated when it is known during the curtain call that the play is written in 2008. It is also revealed as to why the political commentaries seemed irrelevant and out of time. The political discourse could’ve been generalised to suit the current time but the makers lack the courage. In this turbulent times, they did what could be done without much nuisance. It’s a sensational play targeted towards middle class/upper-middle class audience with its eloquent phrases that are injected with guilt and self-criticism of a specific class and some ordinary political dialogues that render it pseudo-serious. This deceitfulness makes the play ineffective for the audience. The play’s analysis from the lens of gender studies is also disappointing, the male characters are the centre while the female characters are the satellites. And to infuse negativity in the female character by an abrupt lighting of a cigarette exposes the myopic thought process of the makers. The actors are learned and refined yet the acting style is stuck in the past; ‘this is theatre’ – this self-censorship is too much visible in acting style. Still, actor Sandipan Chatterjee credibly manages to exude different shades in Shubhankar. Apart from a few extremely exhilarating scenes, his acting is quite natural. Ashok Majumder aka Mr. Ghost has spoken in natural utterances through the help of lapel but sometimes he has gone back to old style. The run of the mill feeling is also visible in stage imagination but they have used the whole stage accurately. The music arrangement is sub-par but the lighting and effects are rather attractive. The parallel conversations with Shubhankar, Sima and the spectres along with flashbacks and flash-forwards are impressive. Overall, the play has an artificial smartness but the production is mediocre. Light comedy, witty dialogues and apparent seriousness may bring footfalls but in the grand scheme of theatre practice, it has not been a progressive venture.


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.

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