Bengali play ‘Supari Killer’-With A Prologue on Biplab Bandyopadhyay and An Epilogue From Bergman

Mar 4, 2012 (Calcutta Tube): Critic Pachu Ray explores Biplab Bandyopadhyay’s directorial venture ‘Supari Killer’ that has Supriyo Datta and Poulami Bose in lead roles. Read the Bengali drama review at Calcutta Tube.

Biplab Bandopadhyay was first discovered as an actor in early nineties in Theatre Workshop’s marvelous production ‘Bela Obelar Galpo’ directed by Ashok Mukhopadhyay after Bibhash Chakraborty’s departure from the Workshop itself. Possibly Poka (adopted from Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’, Biplab played the role of Gregory which in Poka was Gautam) was Biplab’s last work in Theatre Workshop. He gradually got involved in TV serials and telefilms. During this period not even for a moment he detached himself from the proscenium. He enacted in the revolutionary production ‘Tista Parer Brittanta’, ‘Mefisto’ and ‘Bisarjan’ – all directed  by  Suman Mukherji. He played the major role in the outstanding memorable work of Arun Mukherji – ‘Putul Nacher Itikatha’. At the same time Biplab himself emancipated as a powerful director in ‘Neel Mati Lal Kankar’ (the biographical work based on Ramkinkar Baij’s life and passion.). Gradually he directed ‘Nasto Ashim’, ‘Prem Nei’, ‘Andhare Ekela’, ‘Shashtho Ritu’,’ Supari Killer; and ‘Ashalin’. Here we will concentrate on ‘Supari Killer’ only. This play is written by Bratyo Basu, produced by ‘Prachya’ and enacted mainly by Supriyo Datta as suparikiller Rancho and Poulami Basu (daughter of Soumitra Chatterji)  as Damayanti.

Bratya Basu at the moment is an important  member of  Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet. He was very much within the political doldrums when he wrote ‘Supari Killer’ (a professional killer who does the job in lieu of money). But in this play there is no reflection of his contemporary political views. The play ultimately draws a picture of some utopia. From a horrible world of heartless revenge the play takes us to a full throttled song of flamboyant life.

In fact the play starts as a thriller with tremendous speed and huge noise projected on a screen at the back from where riding on a speedy motorcycle Suparikiller Rancho comes (better to say lands) in a pub. The stage (Bilu Datta) has two floors connected with two stairs from both the sides. The ground one is a pub and the upper one is multifunctional. Rancho declares his arrival at the gun point thus vacating the pub. Here he meets his client Damyanti .They exchange the terms and conditions of the killing. Rancho has to kill three persons to be identified by Damayanti and in lieu he will have 0.9 million rupees as remuneration. With fifty percent down payment Rancho starts his job killing two victims (Jangam – her employer and Debdas – her fiancé/husband) in a short spell of time. When Rancho kills Debdas, it is very interesting to follow the utter vengeance of Damayanti.

“Before cutting his vocal chord, Rancho please muddle his face with the nails of your shoe. Now you cut his vocal chord. Take out his arms. Chop the fingers into small pieces. With those fingers the son of a bitch once upon a time used to hold my hands. Yes now you cut his legs, cut his genitals and throw those in the bush to be eaten by vultures. Throw the intestines in the fishery to be swallowed by hungry fishes. Under the sun there is nothing more serene than revenge and retaliation.”

After killing Jangam and Debdas, Rancho gets his payment from satisfied Damayanti  and a cheque for the remaining amount. Please follow the next conversation.

Rancho: Thanks. Now tell me who is your third case?

Damayanti: (lits a cigarette and then sips the beer mug) Me. The third one is myself.

Rancho: What do you mean?

Damayanti: You have your full payment, ok?

Rancho: So what?

Damayanti: Wiping out all the three is under your commitment.

Rancho: Right

Damayanti:  So kill me. Third one is myself.

Rancho: But why?

Damayanti: Because I need this.

Rancho: Yep but why?

Damayanti: Because now the meaning of living is very clear to me.

Rancho: How come?

Damayanti: Disgusting, devoid of excitement and at last no spark of vengeance. I sob after retaliation. Why after taking revenge over Jangam and Debdas, my eye lids got wet? I cried. It means my mind set is not even prepared to take revenge…… Actually I cried for myself. I cried for the bifurcation within my mental make up. My one half tells me to retaliate and the other half, on the contrary, is not prepared for the same. Frail and farm, simple and complex, angular and frivol, kind and cruel- coexistence of these opposites within myself now and then is making me tired and disgusted.

This is one way of seeing Damayanti as an individual. But there is another way where Damayanti is no more a lone traveler. She travels all through our civilization.  Please follow her dialogue meticulously.

Damayanti:  I have spent many sleepless nights. Days after days those Jangams have chased me and my father and brother with their hired goons sniffing all the roads streets footpaths allies and galilees.

Rancho: Were they really?

Damayanti: Yes, I have seen them in Antarctic amidst snow storm- standing in front of sledge, they were vigorously throwing snow. I have seen them with rattle snake – rattling sound has warned me not to go to sleep- wake up and do your job- they said. I have seen them in the olive orchard of ancient Roman Emperors- with Emperors’ buckles on their neck- chewing the bones and greedily looking for slaving any other minister of the Emperor. Rancho, since ages I have been deceived and beaten. I have been beaten in the ‘Nikumvila Pyre’, Jangam told Indrajit to beat me. I have been beaten in Leningrad – bastards of Russian Kashaks, opening the book full of theories, have chased me. I have been beaten in Egypt, the army of Judas failed to make me slave. We were chained with stones in the neck. Throwing away those stones we have shouted with full throat. In the long run in this universe the melody of Orpheus’ flute will stay and win.

Supari Killer, thus you understand, is a play with multi-dimension having no bar on time and space. It’s a play on life and death where a professional killer emancipates as a life saver. It’s a play where we watch professional killer Rancho to dance with the white angels landing through the stairs and at the same time Rancho to dances with black death. We could well understand the reasons behind Damayanti’s motive of killing herself if we follow the concluding conversations.

Damayanti: There is no way – greed or hunger or sex –nothing can refrain us from the eventuality of death. There is no pure or serene deed which can obliterate our depression once for all. There can be no relation to satisfy our expectation to its highest altitude.

And so Damayanti asks rancho to kill her. Rancho the professional killer said in reply:

You can also wipe me out. But still I never spend sleepless night like you. I sell my work Damayanti and nothing else. I do not care for others. I do not live for others. To me the stark reality is that, after all these I’m still alive.

During this conversation we also discover Rancho’s journey through ages. He says, “sometimes at midnight I dance with the angels. Beethoven stands at my window to remind me of my old memories – I visualize my predecessors who were washed out at the Harappa. I see my predecessor who was a pilot in Dronacharya’s chariot killed unlawfully in the war of Kurukshetra. My that ancestor comes to my memory who was given ‘supari’ by Jagat Seth to kill Siraj….… If in those processes of killings and been killed, my predecessors can enlarge their progeny then why me a supari killer cannot dance with the angels?”

And at the end when Damayanti in no way could compel Rancho to kill her she snatching the pistol of Rancho tries to commit suicide which is smartly stopped by Rancho, who embracing Damayanti finally says, “Now what’s the use of dying? Let us live for a few more days. Let us see what is coming up with us-

We were listening the dialogues of Damayanti and Rancho while on the screen on the back the famous frame of Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Seventh Seal’ where the protagonist of the film playing chase with death is being displayed.

Gradually that frame fades out and again comes the angel in the empty room where Rancho and Damayanti were embracing themselves.

As per acting is concerned Supriyo is superb and unparallel as Rancho. His smartness, his body language and his excellence in voice have marveled us all through. Poulami as Damayanti has done well too. There is a tem of actors who have been nicely and smartly used by the director. The dance composition with white angel and black death are wonderful. All the actors have done their job nicely. The pub scene is very smart. And this smartness should be attributed to all the actors besides Supriyo and Poulami as well. Dipak Mukherji’s light and Dishari Chakraborty’s music are very much compatible with the directorial work.

 To me ‘Supari Killer’ is the best directorial work of  Biplab Bandopadhyay so far. It is very difficult to properly inter-mingle the lyrical approach in a profound smart production. Biplab has done the job with no inhibition at all. The excellent use of cyclorama in one hand and choreography on the other have brought new dimension in the production. ‘Superi Killer’ is thus an excellent drama efficiently directed and smartly enacted.


PLAY:                        BRATYO BASU

LIGHT:                      DEEPAK MUKHOPADHYAY

MUSIC:                     DISHARI CHAKRABORTY

SET:                           PARTHA MAJUMDER

MAKE UP:              SANJAY PAL

COSTUME:             GOPAL PAL





ART:                           NEELAVA CHATTOPADHYAY



Complete Gallery

Poulami Bose, Supriyo Datta in Supari Killer Bengali Play

– Pachu Ray / Photos: Prachyo

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