Patar Banshi – An enjoyable theatrical experience made with utter sincerity

Posted by Kaahon Desk On April 4, 2020

The production ‘Patar Banshi’ by Barasat Kalpik was staged on 14th March at Uttarpara Ganabhavan as part of the Dankuni Theatre Festival organized by Theatre Shine. The play written by Mukunda Chakraborty and directed by Debabrata Banerjee is based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s short story ‘Taalnabami’.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

‘Taalnabami’ by Bandyopadhyay is one of the most read short stories. It revolves around the hope, desire and disappointments in the lives of two children belonging to a marginalized family in the Bengal countryside during the pre-independence era. The playwright has made many changes to the story. Even the beginning of the play wouldn’t make anyone realize that it’s indeed an adaptation of ‘Taalnabami’. The names of the protagonists too are different. But if you watch the entire play, you’ll realize that many of the parts that the playwright has added were already there in the story as subtexts – that of deprivation and exploitation. The playwright has held up these very subtexts explicitly in the form of a play. Clearly, that they have managed to interpret this story in a new way and make it relevant in today’s time, rather than shoving it in the shelf as a classic, is praiseworthy. The ending scene in the story, where the child’s disappointment is described elaborately, isn’t shown here in the same way. But that didn’t decrease the essence of romanticism of Bandyopadhyay. The playwright has compensated for that by knitting closely the scenes of mutual love, affection and co-dependence between the two brothers Kelo and Bhulo. The element of co-dependence between nature and humans has also been included in the play. But in the present scenario, these two brothers don’t silently accept the deprivation that they receive. Rather they dream of destroying this means of deprivation. The flute made out of leaves (Patar Banshi) that their father had left becomes their weapon of protest. It isn’t that the play is equally flawless at every point. That Kelo, Bhulo and their father dream of a liberal and communist society is articulated in a way like that of the 70s and 80s. Or, like the decade of the pre-liberal economy. A few contemporary elements, like that of anti-nationalism, have been included in the phase where Bhulo is a grown-up. But due to the lack of depth in the dialogues, there was a dearth of credibility in it. The scene of the school master seemed to be directly taken out of very common Bengali films. The part of the Jatrapala, inspired from ‘Pather Panchali’, was lengthy and seemed disconnected with the actual play. Despite being scared of being bitten by snakes, Bhulo goes to the jungle to find palm trees so as to have his favourite dish made of those fruits. But giving those fruits to the priest, almost without any prior explanation, needed justification. His father’s/brother’s communist ideological preaching works behind this kind of behaviour of his. But if his mental dilemma was articulated along with that, it could’ve been more believable. But, despite all of this, the credibility of the overall text remains unaffected throughout the entire duration of the play.

The director Debabrata has produced the play as a language of protest of the marginalized. Playing that flute made of leaves during crucial moments is a direct articulation of that protest. Activities of excretion have also been added several times on the stage as part of the protest. As the set designer, Neel Koushik has taken the minimalist approach. The almost unornamented stage looks compatible with the theme of the play and creates a sense of void in the minds of the audience. The different ambiences that he has created just with use of a few long sticks are useful, visually aesthetic and have the element of astonishment too. The scenes have been designed keeping in mind every nook and corner of the stage. These have been well complemented by the light design by Barun Kar (operated by Pritam Chakraborty), especially in the scene of the star-studded sky. Even the sound design by Subhodeep Guha complements the mood of the play. There is noticeable attempt to capture the aesthetics of Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay in all the aspects of the production.

The two brothers Kelo and Bhulo have been played by Ajay Chakraborty and Sujoy Biswas, who have maintained the credibility of their characters, especially Ajay as Kelo. Aniruddha, who plays the grown up Bhulo, is overtly emotional whereas the person playing the doctor is quite weak an actor. Hence, instead of concentrating on the main substance of Aniruddha’s dialogues, the audience gets busier to admire his acting. Pubali Ganguly in the character of the aunt reminds us of the Bengali serials (in this context, let’s clear it out that the world created in the play has almost no role of women in it). The rest of the characters have performed maintaining a certain standard. Overall, ‘Patar Banshi’ is an enjoyable play, whose theatrical essence succeeds to remain in the minds of the audience!

Sthananka – A play on purpose of theatre practice…leftist ideology and conflicts aroundBarasat Kalpik is one of the most unique theatre groups among all the new noticeable and contemporary ones that are working with utter sincerity and dedication. Besides the grant-aided, Kolkata-based and extravagant theatre groups and productions, there are these new performers binging the small towns in limelight with their youthful energy. They too deserve the spotlight along with equal respect and praise like the Kolkata veterans. It’s a request to all the theatre enthusiasts of Bengal to introduce yourself to the works of these new theatre groups at any chance that you might get. To get a streak of new theatrical ideas and scrutinize them, theatre groups like Barasat Kalpik must be encouraged.

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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