Theatre Platform’s outstanding performance with scripts of Bratya Basu

March 22, 2012 (Calcutta Tube): We at the moment will engage ourselves with a young group of Kolkata named Theatre Platform. Their two very recent productions – Khanjana Ami Ar Asbo Na and Samayjan both directed by Debashish Ray have simply mesmerized me. Both the plays have been written by Bratya Basu.  Between the two productions, KHANJANA is definitely a courageous work.

While talking about courage one may ask so many questions from theatre itself. Kallol, Tir (Little Theatre Group production) and Duswapner Nagari (PLT production) of Utpal Dutta, Rajrakta written by Mohit Chatterjee and directed by Bibhash Chakraborty (Theatre Workshop), Prabaha of Indrajit Sen (Charandal), Kolkatar Hamlet by Asit Bose (CPTA), Pashukhamar by ShaNoli Mitra and Arpita Ghosh (Pancham Boidik), Bratya Basu`s Rudhhasangit (Kalindi Bratyajan) and Winkle Twinkle (Sansriti, directed by Debesh Chatterjee) are some of the examples of courageous political theatre. On the other hand Shambhu Mitra and Bijon Bhattachariya`s Nabanna (IPTA) and Tagore`s Raktakarabi in Shambhu Mitra`s direction at Bahurupi have shown courage of different kind and thus they have revolutionized our theatre. Natyakarer Sandhane Chhati Charitra of Ajitesh Banerjee (Nandikar) in one hand and Bratya Bose`s  Ashalin (Ganakrishti) on the other were courageous of their own kind. If one opens this box of courage earnestly, then one can understand the variety of courage. And thus Theatre Platform`s Khanjana is courageous of another kind.

Very recently the Apple group has launched a backup utility named Time Machine which they sell as Time Capsule. Though Samayjan is the Bengali transcription of Time Machine, it has nothing to do with that Time Capsule. The concept of Samayjan has cropped up from Time Machine, the historical novel written by H.G. Wells in 1895.

This concept of H. G. Wells inspired a young man to build a time machine. To project the result of the machine director Debashish has taken rampant help of multimedia. As a result by intermingling of the interesting subject with the charming technicalities the director made some doll drum in the upper tier which we should consider as a room in the attic where the pretty girl friend (Mausumi Das) of the boy used to come time and again. Incidentally we had the opportunity to watch some close scenes of the then unmarried couple in that attic. The rest is excavated when at a critical juncture the boy shaking his girl friend with his both hands says, ’It matters very little whether we are brother and sister  or  whatever blab blab relations we might have, everything has happened between us, so why bother since we are at the point of no return!`

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The story deals with a nucleus family consisting of parents and their only son. The only son (Apurba Ghosh) stays at attic, the parents Bedanta Banerjee the father and Nandini Bhowmic the mother stay at the ground floor. Bedanta is crippled and lives on strict and timely medication. Nandini talks very little and engages herself almost as a mistress of her husband. Certain boredom has been introduced in their lifestyle deliberately by the director to establish the time machine effect of attic. Bedanta the father suddenly starts recollection.

In the attic, the couple starts playing with the home made Time Machine. Whatever they watch we too watch the same in a big screen. In the screen gradually time machine projects the past, so comes selectively the grandfather, father and past tense events of Apurba. But since time machine does not know to conceal the unwanted frames, everything flashes back irrespective of its color and flavor. The time machine thus reaches in a midnight coup of a running train and projects a copulating couple consisting of a ticket checker and a passenger. This scene startles the couple of the attic. Because they are their father and mother respectively.

Reaching the far end of his life Bedanta, the then ticket collector wants to confess everything before her legal better half. He starts explaining why after returning from duty on that auspicious day he declared his submission of resignation. Bedanta thus no more wants to keep Nandini under sheer darkness. But after proceeding a few steps Bedanta understands that, there is something wrong in the state of Denmark. He understands that Nandini knows everything. Actually that one night`s friend of Bedanta once wrote a letter to her one night`s bed partner giving no address of her and giving the news of birth of a girl child as a result. After reading Nandini did not hand over the same to Bedanta.

At last Bedanta rediscovers her one night`s fiancé in his sons fiancé as soon as the latter removes her specs. The young is simply a replica of the old. And eventually his son and daughter are going to marry each other. Using the time machine we watch a very strong pronunciation which still seems to be obscure in our consciences. Time machine has taken them a long leap forward.

Now to talk about acting, here comes Nandini Bhowmic in the foremost. Nandini is amazing at the moment. We are citing some of her very recent works.  In Hamlet directed by Bibhash Chakraborty she was Gartrude, the queen of Denmark and the mother of Hamlet too. Anya Theatre`s production Chaitali Rater Swapna is adopted from Shakespeare`s Mid Summer Night`s Dream. In this production directed by Abanti Chakraborty, Nandini played in the role of Queen of Athens in one hand and a mere dancer of fairy land on the other. In another recent work Parashpathar directed by Shyamal Chakraborty Nandini is a superfluous TV reporter. In Sagina Mahato directed by Parthopratim Deb, she played a role of a trade union oriented party woman named Gauri. And in Samayjan she is an old morbid house maker. She has here exhibited the capacity to unfurl the character gradually and gradually. Next comes Bedanta who is a mature actor. In his parent group Natadha, Bedanta is an organizer and regular actor too. In Samayjan hidden complications under a calm and quite character are nicely unfurled by Bedanta step by step. Bedanta and Nandini Bhowmic have built a reliable combination.

We will now jump over to Apurba and Mausumi. Since their development is based on science fiction,some sort of magic reality is hidden with their development and apparent disaster. We have enjoyed this couple sitting on the other side of the auditorium and got the flavor of their nascent youth all the time along with their agony and ecstasy as well. Now some jargons.

Theatre is not just a narration. Theatre means action, the action accomplished with geometrical arrangement which should have inherent balance. And its total effect is supposed to be lyrical. And this lyric will be illusive infatuating but not lock stock and barrel impractical. Whatever might be the theories of theatre introduced by Stanislavoski, Brecht, Mayarhold, Dario Fo, Harold Pinter and other theatre stalwarts, theatre in a nutshell is mathematically derived geometrically arranged some sort of illusive infatuation and never being impractical proposition of any kind.

We are talking all those in context of two short plays-  Samayjan  and  Khanjana Ami Ar Asbo Na. Both the plays are intermingled in their axis- the axis devoid of traditional thought process, the axis where physical association has given priority in a straight way or in a roundabout manner in woman-man relationship. And sex too has not been taken up in a conventional way. In Samayjan virtually the sex partners (who eventually will be life partner) are sister and brother. In Khanjana there are two faces of a woman. One who writes erotic sex based novels. And the other face is docile obedient very much conventional. Now let us jump over to  Khanjana.

A packet in one armpit and a book in another hand, a most unimpressive young guest gets in the house of a writer Sauren Sen whose book is in his armpit and the book is meant for an autograph of the writer himself. He is entertained by a lady with a blood stained chopper in one hand, putting on a golden colored house coat and introducing herself as the wife of the writer. And eventually she is Khanjana. After knowing that the man is fanatic admirer of Sauren Sen and has come to collect his autograph, Khnajana simply bursts into anger and starts chasing him with that chopper. The guest runs here and there to get rid of her. But Khanjana herself is unyielding, pertinacious. She runs here and there in the stage and recites from that book and after that snatching the book from the guest, Khanjana starts reading. The portions which she is reading or reciting are full of erotic descriptions of sex. Since the guest enjoys this writing Khanjana declares him as a pervert. She takes off her house coat and in shorts and shirt chases the guest ordering him to undress and to get fucked by her. The startled perturbed guest runs here and there to get rid of Khanjana, but in vain. She gets hold of him during this tassel and declares that with the chopper she has butchered her pervert husband and now after fucking him she will kill him too. At this crucial moment, in comes a man who introduces himself as Sauren Sen. As soon as he orders Khanjana to go inside, she moves away most obediently. Anyway having his most favorite writer so close the guest asks him to give an autograph. Sauren says that he is not the writer, using his name Khanjana writes all those books which are hot cakes in the book market. He then asks her wife to come and give an autograph. Gentle Khanjana comes clad with sari blouse etc and politely offers the autograph.

In this production, acting tuning is based on the theory of unity of opposites. Khanjana and the guest are just opposite characters apparently, but inherent they have unity. The books the guest adores are written by Khanjana in one hand and besides temporary shocking behave of Khanjana she is docile calm and quite as is the guest. Atanu Mitra is the guest and Nancy has played the role of Khanjana. The duet of Nancy and Atanu is simply outstanding, I`m overwhelmed. The complete opposite acting style of Nancy and Atanu has created something, which is as I said earlier, mathematically derived geometrically arranged some sort of illusive infatuation and never being impractical proposition of any kind. The credit for all these goes to the director Debashish Ray. In a short spell Ratan Das has done well as Sauren Sen.

The thought provoking stage craft of both the productions has been planned by the accomplished director Debashish Ray and made by Tinku. Jayanta Mukherjee has done well with light. Shubhadip Guha whom I will never ever forget for his outstanding performance in Hridmajhare of Nandikar, has done well here also. Make up has been nicely done by Ranjit Chakraborty. Dress has been planned by the great Nancy. Theatre Platform has a long way to go. Hats off Theatre Platform!

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- Pachu Ray

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