Curtain rises. Gorgeously crafted and segmented stage with multiple layers, a band of live musicians taking positions, mood is ready with a joyous, warm, almost full auditorium…. Bengali adaptation of a Shakespearean comedy is going to start!
Expensive attire is almost everywhere, from the light, to the stage design to the costumes! But a small but significant mistake! “Bengali adaptation” shouldn’t be mentioned so prominently, because the name of the play urges to enliven a different metropolis i.e. Mumbai. There come Bollywood, underworld, deep rooted nostalgia of 70’s. There come gaudy bar-nights with dazzling night queens, and their much talked about living. Mumbai Nights!
Too much of Hindi numbers, eh! Even the time-frame of Bollywood eras are getting puzzled with the choice of songs! A pack of voluptuous young fellas are seemingly endlessly dancing in repetitive successions. Still no visual magic is being created. Fellow spectators are whispering impatiently, are they trying to recreate a Sarkarina? Shhhh… don’t get distracted. Grab your attention; it’s a new-age play model. Bollywoodian Shakespeare package! Big names, big posters, continuously houseful shows have already been able to create much hue and cry in the city. So, something extraordinary, something out of the world is soon going to happen!
Well, the characters of the original play “Twelfth Night” are gradually being etched on the stage. Orsino, Lady Olivia, Viola/Cesario, Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, Maria unveil themselves in their filmy avatars. Filmy in the sense, the reconstructed plot of the original Illyria is here film industry of Mumbai. Viewers try to contemplate. But the performances are too clumsy, too loud; seem like an amateur Para-theatre group! Are they the same Minerva-repertoires, who amazed with their finesse in Devi Sarpamasta or Chandragupta? And what happened to the dialogues? Have Mr. Director really planned to cater this piece of work to the urban Kolkattans? Is this called wit or sarcasm or pun or satire, exactly what?
Anyway, let’s wait for the magnet of the show, at least for the many. Mr. Halder enters. Here, he is Tekka, Malvolio of “Twelfth Night”. But once again painfully trapped he is, in the gawky character sketch, helpless in the mise-en-scene. Last we saw the same blunderous Goutam Halder in “Dream-Dream”, an adaptation of Midsummer Night’s Dream. Again Shakespeare, again an over-the-top pathetic performance! Still he manages to deliver some sparks to the audience who are otherwise dangerously bored, disheartened, and migrained already!
Every nightmare ends, so this Saturday evening, but to the last nail on the coffin! Farha Khan’s Om Shanti Om happens once more on the stage. The crew members dance to the beats of Bollywood one by one and are welcomed by the actors on stage. And so…. Mr. Minister Basu, err… Mr. Director does a “Dooba Dooba Dil Doobba” stance and the curtain falls. Sigh! Relieved we are.