Kanchanmala : A play slipped behind in time

Posted by Kaahon Desk On February 8, 2019

Kanchanmala’ is the latest production of the theatre group Samikkhan. Written by Soumitra Basu and directed by Pankaj Munsi. Both Soumitra Basu and Pankaj Munsi have been working in the field of Bengali theatre for a long time. The group Samikkhan itself is roughly forty years old. Naturally, the expectations will soar; while going to watch one of their productions.

Kanchanmala has an indication of fairy-tale in its name! (Especially after Kiranmala any name that ends with mala has been moulded into a reminiscent of a fairy. Exceptions: Urmimala, Juin-er mala (garland of Jasmin), Narkoler mala (coconut shell) … etc.) Fairy-tale is a very attractive dramatic device, for many a year stalwart writers have been convening some important ideas, been asking some contemporary questions, and depicting the politics of life, within the guise of fairy tales- all in a very understandable language. Needless to say, the barometer of expectation will soar, from a banner so old; and more so, because of the attractions of the fairy tales itself.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

But sadly, the writer, the director, and the performers have shied away from the responsibilities of such expectations. There arises no natural conflict in the story, during the course of the presentation, and the play resembles a collection of disjointed scenes. The protagonist, princess Kanchanmala tells us that she wishes to fight against the rules. But during the whole performance the only rebellious thing that she does; is to run away with a snake. How do the parents of the princess come under the impression of making her the queen of the kingdom, by marrying their daughter off to the 77 years old king? What is the incentive of the fortune teller for which the courts the old king to marry again? How does the cursed king who has been transformed into a snake, chooses Kanchanmala beforehand, to repel his curse; these are some of the unanswered questions. How does the cursed king trapped in a snake’s body saves Kanchanmala from the claws of the old king, and how could he plan to marry his son with Kanchanmala? Everything is covered with thick clouds of ambiguity. At the very end, Kanchanmala’s docile and socially acceptable behaviour of tidying up her husband’s room instigates a deep Anjan Chowdhury like irritation.

Pankaj-babu conveys to us through the curtain call that; he has constructed this play as an ode to his childhood, and his primary intention was to popularise it among the children. But how the above-mentioned inconsistencies can give joy to children, or influence them positively; is something the audience fails to understand.

Every movement of a play is political. Even if the writer and the director wish against it, it will still seep out. The format of fairy tale theatre has been used as an allegory for that exact same reason time and gain. But no one in the production was concerned about such things. Don’t the children have the power of cognition? Is it not the responsibility of the guardians to push them in the path of cognitive expansion? How long will the Bengali-theatre’s fairy tales remain tangled in Gariahat Market’s Ghagra-Punjabi and cheap ornaments? Is it not time yet to think about the what and whys; of a production?

The only thing to treasure in this production is its stage decoration. Saumik and Piyali responsible for decoration; have constructed a beautiful stage from very little expenses doing a commendable job. The lights are part of the set, and the use of them is beautiful as well.  Gautam Ghosh’s music is corny, and the acting in this production closely resembles the popular mega serial format.

For this reason, Samikkhan’s Kanchanmala is incapable of presenting the audience with nothing but disappointment. As students of theatre, we will expect much better productions from Samikkhanin the future.


  1. Not all the princesses dance a little in the middle of delivering dialogues. And words like mountains, sky, river etc. remain the same in meaning when spoken without gesticulating the words.
  2. Generally, snakes don’t wear snake consumes to pass themselves off as snakes, neither do they keep their hoods raised all the while. There’s an element called emotion in theatre.
  3. Please don’t decide whether to watch this play by reading the review. Go to the theatre, watch the play, and let us know your opinions in the comment section.


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: Harit Chowdhury

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