The Plays in Hindi
On a laid back rainy evening on Thursday the 26th of Sept 2019, DI was witness to a delightful literary event of play reading in Hindi and Bengali. The Hindi play reading was in four parts dealing with various facets of life.
The first act was a solo act by Raja Shah projecting, in a comical manner, the dramatization of TV debates by the media and how the Anchors nowadays control the TV debates and make it run as per their whims and fancies.
The second act, being a group act, enacted by Sweta Maitra, Vijay Singh, Raja Shah and Shagufta Jain threw light on the materialistic and consumeristic outlook of the current society. It was a humourous take on how cheap aeroplanes are being sold by an East European country and the hilarious events it leads to in the life of a common man and his family and friends.
The third play was enacted by Raja Shah and Sweta Maitra. It dwelt on the comical turn of events in the life of a married couple when the wife is faced with gossip about herself at a party and how the husband has to get out of a tight situation, justifying and pampering his wife to keep her in good spirits for the sake of never-found marital bliss.
The last act was again a solo by Vijay Singh and an entertaining and slapstick comedy on the dynamics of a married couple.
Amit Dutt gives us his detailed version of the the second half - a lot more than half of this report, though!
The Plays in Bengali
Among the more prominent traits that set apart the trans-border Bangal is his vernacular. Not exactly euphonic, it nevertheless possesses a phonology that stirs a sense of amusement in the listener. Especially comic are the shift of the j sound to the spirant z and the chh to the sibilant s. Jacchi, going, turns into zaitesi; an alliterating juto jora jaley bhijey jobjobey – the pair of shoes has become soaked in rain – morphs into zute zora zoley bhizey zobzobey. Ten minutes of a not-dissimilar conversation had DItes bursting into peals of laughter on Thursday, the 26th. The occasion: the second of the three Bengali play-readings, Kartaa banaam Ginni. Performed originally by Bhanu Bandopadhyay, the most prominent exponent of this opar Bangla variant, and one who straddled the Bengalee cine world for four long decades with his trademark pronunciations, it was reprised with elan by Shubham Poddar at the Main Bar. A spar between the husband and wife, Aditi Dutt, her refrain of serving him his tea in five minutes for over an hour saw the husband having that virtue commonly known as patience wearing perilously gossamer. Exasperated, in other words. The Puja bonus and how they would spend it, holidaying in Kashmir or at Puri had them knotted in another heated exchange. What got both excited, however, was what they considered the exotic names of diseases. While the earlier ones, they felt, wore a drab suffix of ia, pneumonia, diphtheria, malaria, -- the ginni even construed encyclopaedia an ailment -- the more recent ones ending in is and us, conjunctivitis, encephalitis, pharyngitis, sounded suitably impressive. On her query which affliction constituted an us, pat came the reply, “virus”, -- when the doctor is thoroughly confounded, as is disquietingly often the case, and fails, miserably, to diagnose the affliction.
The last, Kreme Kreme Prasthan, cast an all-women squad if, that is, one considers Georgie Guha, cross-dressing into the daughter-in-law, a woman, never mind his galluses showing from under the sheer veil. The plot centred around an arranged marriage, where the groom’s side would kreme kreme, gradually, come to see the would-be bride, Chua. First the distaff side, comprising the duo of sasuri and daughter-in-law, and then, on their nod, the spear side and finally the groom, Neru, – so dubbed for his predilection for scalping himself, -- with his friends. The projected harassment thoroughly raised the hackles of the elder sister, Bua, who contrived to scupper the proposal with her saucy chutzpah. And in the prosecution of which, the three, Bua’s lanky husband, Suman, constituting the last of the factious triad, ganged up -- much to the discomfiture of their mother -- to ensure a hasty prasthan, departure, of the unwelcome guests. Realising that their visit had hit the reefs, -- the final proverbial straw was Chua showing her tongue, a gesture of rank contempt, to the obsequious daughter-in-law – the two beat a hurried, in marked contrast to the kreme kreme, retreat. All this to facilitate the match Suman had brokered with his brother, Sujan. To which the doting mother had but grudgingly to assent. Minu Roychowdhury as the visiting mother-in-law, Aditi Dutt as the mother, Tapashi Mukherjee as Bua and Ranjini Roy as Chua redeemed their roles. Georgie set his stamp of versatility.
To take up the first last, Bibaha Bichheder Abedan, an appeal for divorce, a ten-minute skit by Tarapada Roy, had Abani, the bullied husband seeking Anupam, the lawyer’s counsel in getting a divorce. From a hectoring wife who has no compunction in throwing, among other handy missiles, a ten-pound nora, a grinding stone, at the poor wretch. On the advocate asking her if she had, in fact, resorted to the projectile, she calmly assured him she would have thrown the sheel, the stone grinding tablet, with infinitely more delight had it not been that much heavier. She finally agreed to a divorce provided she be restored to her pre-marital status. Of a widow. Anupam contended that would imply slaying Abani. Abani quipped she was anyway that because he had died the moment he married her, evoking a countenance on her that bordered on the murderous and much guffaw from a thoroughly relishing audience. Tapashi Mukherjee as Manorama, Raju Raman as the wronged victim and Raja Mukhopadhaya as the lawyer rendered ample justice to their roles.
These were preceded by three presentations in Hindi and punctuated by a ten-minute intermission that saw parched throats swamping the bar. The rain gods despite their frantic efforts failed, again miserably, to cast a wet blanket on the evening. At DI in particular.