Deadline – The game is on : A Hindi film copycat in Bengali theatre

Posted by Kaahon Desk On November 23, 2019

On 8th November, Bengali theatre production ‘Deadline –The game is on’ by Khidirpur Rangberang was staged at Girish Mancha. The play is written and directed by Tanmay Chandra.

The plot revolves around a case of kidnapping. Biren Barman is an established doctor and has a happy family with his wife and little daughter. One day, the daughter, a young child, gets kidnapped all of a sudden. The kidnappers grant them 6 hours to gather the amount of the ransom and this makes for the title of the play ‘Deadline’. The name along with the English tagline, ‘the game is on’, might make you think of the typical Hindi films but after watching the play, you’ll be sure that it’s an even more hideous adaptation of those films. But the advertisement of the play says that it’s based on Greg Iles’ novel ‘24 Hours’. The novel is actually a best-selling thriller, something to be read with a lot of dread and terror. Then how did that change into a text that’s moralistic, boring, dull and worn-out? There’s a secret behind this though you don’t need to be Feluda or Mitin Mashi to find it out. You just need to be aware because this particular trope is being very noticeable in contemporary Bengali theatre.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

The novel by Greg Iles was published in the year 2000. In 2002, a Hollywood film ‘Trapped’ was made based on the novel. Parts of the novel were modified for the film. For example, diabetes was replaced with asthma to make it more cinematic. The novel had the mention of another family that had been the previous victim of the kidnappers. This subplot was left out in the film to focus it more on the main one. The weak parts of the novel though were not made up for in the film. Even though there were a few chilling moments, the film was quite ordinary comprising a cocktail of stunts with an aeroplane, collision between cars, explosions, gun shooting and sex. This American film then inspired 2006 Hindi film ‘Deadline: Sirf 24 Ghante’. Some of the scenes were totally copied. Since it was a Hindi film, showing complex family problems were a must with an addition of a moralistic twist in the end. May be it’s better to call it an extension rather than an addition since this twist was present in the American film too albeit in a different way. It would’ve been too much for the creators to show a housewife giving a blowjob to the kidnapper in a Hindi film. Therefore, such scenes were completely avoided. The entire chaos in the end, too, was omitted from the Hindi version. Instead, they tried to send a social message, though a weak attempt. Thus, it was another weak and bad film in general as well as a flop.

The reason why we had to speak about the films instead of the play is that 90% of the production ‘Deadline – The game is on’ is copied from the Hindi film ‘Deadline: Sirf 24 Ghante’; scene to scene and dialogue to dialogue has been copied. Even the names of the characters Biren and Kabir have been left unaltered. And yet they’ve added so spontaneously in their advertisement, ‘Based on Greg Iles’ novel ’24 Hours’. It’s indeed the copy of another adaptation’s copy. Why is there such deception? Is it shameful to say that they’ve copied from a Hindi film? Or will the audience respect the play more if it’s said to be based on an American novel? Why are they even underestimating the audience? The audience can come to know about the truth very easily given that the internet is freely accessible to all in today’s time. So are they taking the audience for granted? Like, they’ll watch anything that’s shown to them without any choice? It’s being difficult to come to the right decision but it’s visible how Bengali theatre is becoming prone to dishonest ventures. Another ongoing Bengali play, ‘Baajimaat’, which is completely imitated from a Hindi film, is being said to be an adaptation of an English novel. What’s the way to solve such deception? It is to create an audience, aware and conscious, so that they can stop the deceitful directors from fooling them any further.

Bazimatt – A confusion with the source text; sign of dishonesty in Bengali theatreLet’s consider that the play is inspired from a Hindi film. Are Hindi films synonymous to bad films? An individual might like the core matter of the film. He/she might feel that it’s possible to produce a play revolving around the plot of the film. But would he/she perform the task of translating mindlessly? Wouldn’t he/she try to make up for the weak parts of the film in the play? Wouldn’t he/she try to address the problems of Indianizing an American story? Kidnapping someone from a house, then hiding in that very house or going out of the house in a car quite frequently would be very easy if it was a house in the lonely American countryside and equally difficult in a crowded Indian city. A typical Indian kidnapper would’ve doubtlessly planned it differently. In the end, when the case is known to the police and the media, the kidnapper walks inside the house without any obstruction! Also, guns aren’t as easily available in India as in America, their possession needs proper justification. It’s unrealistic and impossible to get 1 crore rupees in just 6 hours, especially after banking hours. What’s the logic in the woman kidnapper letting the doctor go outside to get the money after keeping him under her strict watch for so long? If the doctor had to report to the police right after the kidnappers left with all the money then why didn’t he try to inform them earlier? It’s evident that they haven’t thought about these disparities even a bit. Yet, they’ve added a love sequence between the doctor and his wife in the beginning, with thoughtless dialogues from Bengali films. On top of that, the wife is made to lip sync to the playback of a romantic song! A major part of the play involving morality in the profession of the doctor is immensely monotonous and shallow. The doctor’s consciousness returns with a single scolding from his wife and immediately, goes in front of the media and accepts his wrongdoings. This candor can work in Bengali serials and films but why will the audience watch it on the stage? In an interview, the director had said that the play is against those doctors who are greedy for money. If they left their greed, the general public might survive. It’s a nice thought. But then a proper script should be chosen that addresses the social and political reasons behind such dishonesty. The audience will take it seriously only if you choose to go into the crux of the problem. And if you want to showcase a thriller then you must do the task in a proper way. There is anyway both a lack and a demand for thrillers in Bengali theatre. But please refrain from trivializing a big problem by adding unrelated, half-hearted comments.

Torke Bohudur- Spoiling an important idea with amateurish theatre makingThere’s nothing much to say about the other aspects of the play. They don’t have much importance in a play that’s entirely copied. The set, even though conventional, has signs of thought invested on it. But the scene changes must be done quicker in order to retain the existing thrill, especially on the centre stage. In the domain of acting, child actor Disha Singh, in the character of the daughter, deserves praises for her effortless performance. But Kabir failing unconscious when she hits him with a stick is not believable. The lack of believability of the play that’s noticed in the beginning stays constant, throughout and till the end.

Kind readers and loyal audiences of Bengali theatre, we, from Kaahon, definitely want you to watch the play and encourage your friends and family to do the same. Without spectators, theatre won’t exist. Neither do we nor you would want that to happen. But we request you to watch theatre critically and discuss about theatre with others. Creators must realize which plays are or aren’t being accepted by you. Only then can they improve their ways and reach horizons beyond what’s known[1].

[1]Acknowledgment: Dr. Saikat Chakrabarty (Science Researcher and a Bengali theatre audience)

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- Kankabati Banerjee

Read this review in Bengali.

বাংলাতে পড়তে ক্লিক করুন।

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