Bhunibabur Chandni – Enraptured Bengali theatre with time-worn stories

Posted by Kaahon Desk On September 6, 2019

Another addition to the list of plays staged based on old stories, epics, plays and films is the new production ‘Bhunibabur Chandni’ by Curtain Call. This play has been directed by Tirthankar Chattopadhyay and adapted by Sharmila Maitra from Oscar Wilde’s famous short story ‘The Canterville Ghost’. The plot needs no mention after the several adaptations of the story in Hollywood, Bollywood, radio and television. (Even if we reveal the plot, why would the audience go to watch the play?) This much could be said that the horror story is not at all filled with horror rather the ending is quite moralistic.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

This story has two ghosts – Bhunibabu and his companion. The entire play comprises the interactions between these ghosts and a few human beings. There is also the presence of a house with a courtyard. A tiff exists between the old and the new. On one hand, the new tips over the old to establish itself and on the other, it is only the old that keeps humanity alive. In the end, the old and the new co-exist in harmony where the emotional sensitivity of human being wins. Known to everyone, this victory of human sensitivity is a recurring characteristic of most of Wilde’s short stories.

Gautam Halder and Gambhira Bhattacharya have put in thorough effort to establish their ghostly presence. Even though several instances seemed too bland and boring since it could be anticipated, the two ghosts were successful in creating quite a few dramatic moments onstage. During his apperances, Halder has made an actor-specific comic incongruity while delivering dialogues of the character Raghupati from ‘Bisharjan’ since he himself had played that very character. In fact, the playwright has quite skilfully used dialogues like, “Who said murder is sin? This whole world is a platform for murder” to bring out comic instances that delve deep into the philosophical root of the play lying in the very idea of killing. Although Halder’s unique mannerism matches with his character, at some point it exhausts itself. It feels like directors nowadays cast him in plays just for his mannerism. Very few directors have used a sensitive actor like him to fit into the specific needs of the characters. Rather there are even fewer directors in Bengali theatre, who could really make use of his talent. As the companion, Gambhira Bhattacharya has performed smartly within his periphery along with Gautam Halder and for that he deserves applaud.

The set designer Arun Mondal deserves praises for his work. The duplex set structure by Soumik and Piyali seems as good as it does in many other productions. After long have we been able to observe a kind of set that blends the supernatural theme, the comic tone and the exaggerated mood within a single structure. A loose piece of glass moves in the wind at times on the second floor of the haunted house. If that is planned, without any technical error, then we, as dedicated students of theatre, would be glad to think that, even now, artists pay serious attention to small details.

Manush – Lack of profundity in Nandikar’s theatreBut after everything, it must be questioned: How long will Bengali theatre go on by producing plays from old and tattered stories? Some will reply by saying that there’s no such compulsion to write original scripts or harm in working with old ones. There’s no harm in doing so but no one seems to question as to how a theatre tradition would develop without new scripts and new playwrights. The old and the ancient teach us to go with the flow of life. And that flow towards the new must be guided by the new beings themselves. At one point, Bhunibabu leaves, leaving behind his Chandni in the loving and caring hands of the new.

Translation – Kankabati Banerjee


Ebong Ipsita
A Kolkata based theatre practitioner, she has been doing theatre from 2005 and now she is co-directing and adapting plays for different theatre groups in Bengal. She believes to explore the web medium as well to express herself to the world.

Translation – Kankabati Banerjee

Read this review in Bengali.

বাংলাতে পড়তে ক্লিক করুন।


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