Chakkar – An ordinary comedy play, staging stuck in 80s

Posted by Kaahon Desk On April 13, 2020

Nandipat premiered their latest production, ‘Chakkar’- a play inspired by a short story by the esteemed Irish litterateur, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), at the Academy of Fine Arts on last 27th February 2020. Another performance of the play happened few weeks ago on 11th March at Madhusudan Mancha. Sharmila Maitra took the responsibility of adapting the source text ‘Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime’. Bimal Chakrabarty has directed the play.

Jimmy, a youngster from an affluent family, becomes mentally disturbed all of a sudden believing a prediction of an astrologer to be a serious impediment to his upcoming marriage. He makes several attempts to do away with that prediction from his life by hook or by crook and even by using his close ones, but to no effect. To find out what happens in the end in this comic play one has to watch the play. The story follows how in order to make the unfamiliar path of future life ahead of us smooth and unimpeded, one as simple as a common youngster, develops a criminal intention in his mind.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

Adapting a story based in an almost a century and a quarter-old Europe and presenting it on a Bengali stage as a story of this day and age requires thorough attention to certain areas. With the temporal and spatial change within the storyline, certain changes in the milieu, among the characters’ mentalities and opinions are also expected. Unfortunately, this play lacks that vital element. The play is just a complete imitation of Wilde’s story, with only an extra added character of a philosopher-like Conscience! This character has been used to add an extra dimension to the play and lend some credibility to it but it hardly served its purpose. Although there were plenty opportunities to bring a little change in the plot, add some events corresponding present-day phenomena and make it a highly relevant and contemporary play, it simply failed to create that impact. For example, worrying or being unsettled regarding a prophecy is quite common even today. What gives rise to this, is, the deep-rooted religiosity and superstition in the minds of people which in turn make them susceptible to manipulation and misleading by other individuals, institutions and even the State. Had the issue been presented as a crisis of the society and not only a crisis of the individual, the play could have reached the status of an intensely relevant and important play today and that too, keeping its comic form in place.

The presentation of the play is quite traditional as well, reminiscent of the pure comic plays of the 80s. The clever and intelligent advisor of Jimmy, Socrates is a creation of the writer and to some extent is significant. Director Bimal Chakrabarty with his immense experience has wonderfully brought life to the character onstage. Next to his inherent natural acting, everyone appeared quite pale and among them two seemed very artificial due to their oddly loud performances. Therefore, there was no parity in terms of acting between the scenes where the character Socrates was present and where he was not, which clearly hindered the whole production to cement itself on the stage. This failure, to a large extent, falls on the director’s shoulders. The play, in spite of having strong potentials, falls short of transcending itself from being a Comedy only.

Stage design by Sandip Suman Bhattarcharya however does have a modern touch. Keeping a palm-shaped symbolic figure in the partition blends well with the main theme of the play. The idea of changing scenes through some slight changes in the arrangements, adding or removing certain things onstage was fine, but changing scenes within a short span of time and the temporal delaying associated with it hamper the flow of the play. Light design by Trigunashankar has fulfilled the need only, failing to make an impact over the play. Same goes for the background score by Swapan Bandopadhyay which does radiate a comic feeling but never reaches the height to leave its own mark. Saheli Maitra comparatively does a good job with Dress design where the attires appear quite realistic and convincing. In conclusion, we can infer that the whole production reeks of sloppiness and chaotic haste; things which nobody expects from a good play.

Patar Banshi – An enjoyable theatrical experience made with utter sincerityNandipat is a name to look up to in the Bengali stage. However, this production by them comes nowhere close to the height of expectation that their earlier ones seemed to have raised within the audience. Instead, this play reflects the very tendency of gaining easy popularity, something so common among the Bengali world of theatre today. But we do hope that Nandipat, with their best efforts, will come round from this soon and will present us more thoughtful plays 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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