Torke Bohudur – Spoiling an important idea with amateurish theatre making

Posted by Kaahon Desk On November 16, 2019

Watching a play, rather than performing one, brings us closer to the fact that theatre is a composite art. When we perform onstage, be it the actors or the technical support staff, we give our 100% into it…never do we ever think of not giving our best. But how much of all of that actually reaches the audience is a real issue of concern. And the responsibility of handling this issue deftly lies on the director’s head. There have been multiple examples so far where we have observed skillful handling of each of these elements exclusively. But in the end, hardly do they come any near to a succulent feast.

These are just words coming from a dejected mind. I have recently watched a play which has a great message to share but whose execution would remind you of a college production. Doubly does it hurt since this is the same group whose last work (Mallabhumi) fairly impressed us.

Mallabhumi- A good food for brain after long time, both in play and dramaTorke Bohudur’ is a play by Kalyani Mukhosh group. It is written and directed by Ayan Bandopadhyay. The conflict in this play, at once contemporary and universal, lies between science and superstition. The story takes on how coincidences in our daily lives provoke us to believe in fate, things associated positive-negative vibes, nonsense claptrap etc. and how people end up losing power, courage, mental stability and everything in the hands of some tricksters due to that. We will find a number of people around us who believe in these things, some who never used to believe but now do due to some particular incident and there are also some people who mock (and in turn insult) others over their superstitious beliefs. This play speaks of that conflict between science and superstition.

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The conflict in this play originates from a point which is very deeply imbedded into the social life and culture. It is not expected in an educated society that believes in logic and reason. Then how do such Gurujis, Matajis, these so called ‘ascetic’ Babas or people like Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insan yield such power? This is also a political trap. The ringleaders of Industrialization in 19th century Europe, or those of Capitalism in 20th century America (and obviously our government in here) claimed (and still does)  if what they had planned actually materialized not a single human being would go unfed, standards of living in every stratum of society would rise and there would be work in everyone’s hand. But when none of these take place and it becomes apparent that they never will, they try to persuade people by hook or by crook that the government is rigorously working for your benefit, the country abounds in harvest, the citizens are honest and devoted, everyone is well-fed and can afford to buy anything, with the blessing of the God, every single citizen in this country lives happily. Those who are not, must be not working hard enough or the fate is simply not on their side. Popular culture too teems with such notions. When such illogical statements repeatedly attack the subconscious of a man, he or she cannot help but give in to superstitions.

It was expected for the play to touch on this deeper issue. Because people usually do not tend to believe or take an issue seriously unless its source is known to them. This issue although quite subtle in nature entails a large impact on the society but the content of this play never seems to reach the audience that seriously. Superstition is a part this life style which provokes lynching of someone or to support expulsion of certain people assuming them to be foreigners. The play had such important matters to ponder over…but ends up into showcasing a domestic fight of conflicting outlooks between a scientist son and his once communist but now ‘Bhakt’ (not a ‘Bhakta’ or devotee) father. In this context the writer and director of this play should keep this in mind that studying science has nothing to do with having a scientific approach in everyday life. Scores of doctors are available whose hands are adorned with amulets and talismans and there are also teachers who might be teaching non-science subjects, may be humanities, but are staunch believers of logic. Asima (mother of protagonist) could have been spared from being a mathematics graduate. Isn’t that too an example of indulging in a certain over-generalized over-simplified practice?

Mokammel er Amitabh- A T20 match in Bengali TheatreSo the overall subject of the play is clear so far. Now let’s talk about the other elements. They have not been very carefully treated or applied, at least not to perform it on a professional stage. Acting part was very poor, moreover no single actor seemed to have taken it very seriously. With it, losing the cues over and over, putting no effort in the character build up- everything has been a torment for the audience. That the actors in the role of parents were younger than the one representing the son was clearly understandable. In such a play which speaks of a major issue, the use of make-believe makes up for the inadequacies in terms of characterization. Actually if the actors themselves act as a hindrance of communication it becomes very inconvenient for the audience. The way the events have been designed is also very unconvincing and mostly television soap like. Hardly any efforts have been invested in stage and light design. Few western classical music pieces have been used as background scores. But in the end the whole production has appeared to be one performed in a college fest where the director has thought of a strong subject but could not afford much time to elevate it to a proper play.

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- Rishav Dutta

Read this review in Bengali.

বাংলাতে পড়তে ক্লিক করুন।

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