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PITAHI PAROM BANGSHO - DI at Sampreeti 2024 Author:Amit Dutt   Posted On:2024-02-29


Sampreeti. A bond, an attachment. Among the eight clubs that participate in the Club Drama Festival every year. It would not be far-fetched to associate the festival with Bhasha Dibash, ekushe February, a date etched in crimson ink in every Bengali mind and consciousness, cardinal with the blood of the students of Dhaka University who had courted martyrdom seventy two years ago for their mother tongue, Bangla -- their supreme sacrifice immortalized as the International Mother Language Day. It is only fitting that Sampreeti, a celebration of that mother tongue in the form of Bangla drama festival, is commemorated around the date.

The 20th edition, hosted this year by Dalhousie Institute, commenced with a brief address by Jayajit Biswas, the President of the club. Bouquets and felicitations over, the curtains parted to Takhun Bikel, the presentation of International Club, directed by Mouli Basu. Restricted, in the main, to duologues between the various actors, the epitasis saw an indolent, sadfishing man weave a tapestry of falsehood to wheedle money from his divorced actor wife in the name of their ailing daughter, who had long since passed away. The lady, who had all along seen through his deceit, having witnessed the funeral of Ahana, shrouded in a burqa to mask her identity, nevertheless elected to humour him with handouts.

The intermission saw a horde of audience descend on the humble, corner tea-stall, this author  not for a moment ceasing to  wonder how the lady managed to juggle the multiple tasks of brewing tea in its several variants, -- latte, noir, sweet,  not-so-sweet, sugar-free – handing out the bishkoots, again of several varieties, and, at once, keeping track of who has had the brew in a paper cup and who in a bhar, and charging accordingly.The vendor with his trunk-full of patties was doing not too badly either. Brisk business is the term one is looking for?

Interval over, the curtains drew apart a second time to a grim scene: Prabhat discussing with Bhutnath the suicide of friend, Ramaniranjan. The elation of son, Ratan, and daughter-in-law, Malati, at having finally gotten rid of someone they considered a  parasitic burden, -- someone the two had unceremoniously, and unfeelingly, consigned to a boxy glory-hole infested with rats and roaches, and doled out a ration that would make kitchen swill look like a feast – was palpable.That euphoria was, however, ephemeral. Short-lived. The realization, driven home by policebabu, Rajesh, a distant relative -- more clearly visible through a telescope -- that the two might be implicated in abetting the felo de se and, hence, condemned to the same predicament they had cast their hapless parent to, only this time relegated behind the high walls of a prison, proved a double whammy when advocate, Bhabani, read out the damaging last will and testament of the deceased where, in an ironical twist, the progenitor had bequeathed the entire house, -- where husband and wife had been residing in comfort bordering on the luxurious, -- to a religious foundation, leaving just the dingy cubby-hole, that had been his lot all these years, to the ungrateful couple.

The comic twist came in the person of Panchanan, whose malapropisms – solvent for solve, and stool for stew –afforded mirth to the audience in liberal dollops. His singular reluctance in performing the last rites of Ramaniranjan added to the slapstick element. One feared with bated breath, and white knuckles, that the vigorously swinging switch adorning his crown, would come off its moorings at any disastrous moment. That it did not, spoke volumes about the proficiency of the make-up man.

The denouement became apparent when Bhabani provided a way out to the son and d-in-l with an affidavit that the beleaguered parent would be well looked-after in the event he rose from the dead. Once signed by both, Ramani did precisely that, having faked his suicide the whole night. Is that what prompted Bimal to spell out that double entendre of the title, Pitahi Param Bangsho, in the closing tableau? Aparonomasia, a parody of the original pitahi param dharma.

Samaresh Gooptu stood out with his under-acting, as did veteran Jayajit Biswas with his near-flummoxed bearing. Paromita Ray never once missed a beat, even as Tapasi Mukherjee, coasted along smoothly. Sanjay Mukherjee as Bhuto, Raja Mukhopadhyay, the doortuto bhai, Sujit Saha in his cameo, Tunir Chakraborty, the son, and Tapasi Nath, the shaali, yet another homonym with a risqué overtone - redeemed themselves admirably. Tripti Ganguly, the nosey jethima who had been shooed out at the very beginning, and all but forgotten by the audience, bustled in even as the curtains were being drawn. The credit for the curtain call goes, in large measure, to the technical director, Sukumar Banerjee, and director, Biplab Dasgupta. One wonders, though, if the dysphemisms – paikhana being an instance – had better been dispensed with, in deference to the sensitivities of the more epicure in the audience, never mind the playwright, Bimal Bandopadhyay, having considered inclusion of such corruptions appropriate.

Did the cast repair to the club afterwards for the kochi panthar mangsho?