Manaschakshu (2011)-Bengali Play Review

Manaschakshu-Bengali Play PosterKolkata June 10, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Manaschakshu, is an insight to the human mind which searches for the cause that apparently defies logic and releases that primal being which causes one human to destroy another. Read Calcuttatube’s review of the Bengali playManaschakshu’ presented by ‘Sanstab’, under the direction of ace Bengali actor-director Dwijen Bandyopadhyay.

The protagonist, Dr. Haren Shasmal, a famous psychologist by profession cures patients with his deeper insights of the human mind. His being a psychologist seemed to be a natural process as from the very young age he always tried to understand the human mind by simulating actions of others. By stealing his mother’s jewellery he tried to understand the basic nature of a thief and by returning it he conceived the meaning of repentance. He had never been satisfied by concepts and hypothesis – but tried to experimentally understand them. Though this curious nature remained latent for most part of his professional career, as he aged it seemed to reappear with the same if not greater zeal.

As he witnessed the feeling of insecurity and utter frustration that clouds the human mind he seems to be a wee bit nearer to the understanding the rationale behind the apparently irrational acts of violence which regularly features in the news. The inferiority and superiority complex of the human mind that triggers destruction seemed to greatly agitate his philanthropic soul which wanted to guide the human civilization toward the path of betterment.

In this respect his thoughts seem to mirror that of the Buddha who left His life of idle luxury as He witnessed the sick and the wretched. As He left the palace to live the life of an ascetic He conceived the Middle Path as the village girl Sujata revived His strength by giving Him milk and rice pudding. Following this, his meditation acquired him Enlightenment and He was finally able to preach the cause of suffering and also the way to eliminate it. Curiously, at times, the preaching of the Buddha seems to possess Dr. Shasmal when he starts reciting verses in languages foreign to him.

Dr. Shasmal used to speculate that when sentiments run high, logic seems to lose its grip and judgment becomes remote. It is only then that man loses all the senses of morality and a blind fury possesses him. At this moment he can commit the most heinous crime imaginable. But this doesn’t convince him in the least as he wanted proof and more dangerously wanted to experience the instinct of the killer himself. He doesn’t seem to deter by thinking of the consequence and tries to simulate conditions that may prepare him as a killer. The culmination of this terrible experiment is the climax of the play that will reveal whether Dr. Shasmal ultimately gets the answer to the query that he ceaselessly seeks.

The concept of the play penned by Ujjal Mukhopadhyay is no doubt original and the entire presentation is guided by Dwijen Bandyopadhyay’s elegant direction that drives home the underlying message without a trace of doubt. His own performance as the eccentric but philanthropic doctor deserves applause as do his sudden transition to the wiser soul preaching the sermons of the Buddha. The next best point of the presentation was the set by SoumikPiyali and light by Badal Das that is dexterously designed with a representative view of the anatomy of the brain that diffuses in the background but remains all along reminding its presence in each and every action of the human being. Dishari Chakrabarty’s background score is perfect in its timings and harmonies which configures the ambience for each scene in its truest form. The supporting cast of ‘Sanstab’ also notably complements the concept of ‘Manaschakshu’ and should be praised for their sincere efforts to reveal the inner eye that seems to be shut off barring the concept of judgement from the entire mankind.

– Anirban De

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