Tomar Kono Sotyo Nei – A true theatre doesn’t need technical aids

Posted by Kaahon Desk On February 14, 2019

The Internet revolution has rippled not only the ‘Theater’ as a medium, but also the mind of the theater audiences to a great extent. In this new era, when theater is struggling to be a remnant of the creative economy from the past wrought by the various new contemporary ideas of convergence culture, Bengal saw a new initiative to rebuilt the lost glory of the power of live performance.

The Play, “Tomar Kono Sotyo Nei” adapted, scripted, edited and directed by Kishore Sengupta, produced by Kalyani Natya Charcha Kendra staged on 20th January, 2019 at Madhusudan Mancha brought back and celebrated the idea that theater is the only art form which can survive with and without adopting every technological innovationrather with its power of interaction between a set of live performers and live audiences in real time.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

The play has been adopted from the short story and play by the famous British author Agatha Christie, “The witness for the prosecution”, which was published in “The Flynn’s” a weekly pulp magazine in the year 1925. This review will not give any glimpse of the storyline as it may affect the viewing experience of the murder mystery that enfolds in the play. There is nothing much to critically analyze the content of the drama, as it is a reflection of the normative judicial structure which falls within its trap of structures that cannot penetrate the underlying shadowy paths of human psychology and human relationships and fails eventually- a relevant content irrespective of space and time.

The point where “Tomar Kono Sotyo Nei” marks its significance in the point that it is here, where the role of a Director in a medium like theater is visible, where almost everywhere it is heard that theater is an actor’s medium.  As mentioned before, that “Tomar Kono Sotyo Nei” is a murder mystery drama. When almost all the mainstream proscenium theaters of Bengal are trying to explore every technological innovation and while converging with the changing dynamics of the other audiovisual mediums, this production by Kalyani Natya Charcha Kendra stands against this trend with a stern decision. The user oriented technologies like the smartphones, digital camera, iPod at affordable internet connectivity have affected the theater viewing experience, and audiences always migrate from live spaces to technological spaces even while watching a theater. With powerful murder mystery content, even the writer-director could explore this new audience-artist relationship by being aggressive with the integration of the ingredients like music, light, set, costume or the acting craft with technological elements. But, he averted all the temptations and used the most minimalist way to narrate the mystery. The simple symbolic set design by Hiran Mitra, helps the audience to imagine the context of the drama, the flat light design, whose flatness is a part of the entire design as it no way distracts the audience with its technological possibilities or disturbance is the magic of Dipak Mukhopadhyay. The strong script, credit goes to Agatha Christie for its plot, but in this context of the play, to the playwright for the intelligent translation and adaptation, where the audience is thrilled to experience the thriller only through the live enactment of scripted dialogues! The actors are not saturated and dominated by mass media representatives mostly of television, but simple theater enthusiasts. All of them are not endowed with God gifted talents but are skilled under the regular acting training sessions, which are reflected in their performance. Kishore Sengupta plays one of the protagonists, and intentionally maintains a higher pitch of theatrical acting which creates a balance among the realistic acting scale maintained by the entire team.

The names of the protagonists were not changed from the Christie’s play while the context has been Indianised, yet all these minor flaws goes unnoticed as the murder mystery progresses, thanks to the script and the energetic performance of the entire team of actors. The classical European proscenium theater form (as the non-participatory, enactment of scripted dialogues) has been chosen by the director. It was quite successful in its exchange of theatrical experience mainly because of the confidence the director had in its script and the power of the performance.

When the realities of the digital world, and much usage of multimedia in theater influences the creative response in the audience mind, it becomes very difficult to walk back the lane and enter the world of naïve theater, which relies on mainly on live storytelling theatrical experience. This simplicity might not keep today’s restless audiences attentive enoughbut in this case, as the play progressed, the storytelling mechanism could grip their minds. They almost chew up all their nails in the suspicion that who, the murderer was.

Kudos to Kalyani Natya Charcha Kendra, who could bring back the faith in the power of theater as a medium of live performance and exchange of ideas in real time without technological hypnotization. The play can though erase the scope of minor criticisms like in the end scene, an entire murder happening in the court room just after trial is hard to believe in this time, which needs a little modification.

Local and all big theater festivals outside the city should invite plays like “Tomar Kono Sotyo Nei” to attract more common people into the spell of theater as the medium has.


Srijayee Bhattacharjee
A postgraduate in film studies from Jadavpur University, Research Project Assistant in Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, a thespian, creative producer and a writer.

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