THEATRE Torit Mitra’s “Anavrit”, the Hindi version of Bengali play “Biboshon”, poignantly manages to capture individual angst in a postmodernist society. Diwan Singh Bajeli
Sansaptak is arguably the only bilingual Delhi-based theatre group that has been actively involved in presenting plays in Bengali and Hindi. Its productions are distinguished for their complex artistry and focus on individuals struggling in a dehumanised world to retain their human essence. Its latest production of “Anavrit” (Naked), which was presented at LTG auditorium in New Delhi last week, is yet another feather in its cap.
The play’s original version in Bengali, written by Torit Mitra, is “Biboshon”, which was staged by the group a few months ago at the same venue under the direction of the playwright. The same cast appears in the Hindi version, delivering lines with felicity. The play has been translated into Hindi by the four members of the group — Saranendu Chaki, Sreemoyee Dasgupta, Ruma Bose and Anjon Bose.
Designed, conceptualised and directed by Torit Mitra, the play captures the tangled relationship between two sisters and a man who marries the elder sister and is romantically involved with the younger one. The man is professor Abhiroop Sanyal, who has evolved an economic theory that seeks to promote the unfettered growth of capitalism. He agrees to marry the elder sister because her father was rich and owned a house and, at the same time, develops an intimate relationship with the younger sister because she is intellectually sharp. Opportunistic and greedy, the professor indulges in a fraud and is jailed for an economic offence. Defamed, isolated and frustrated, the professor is allowed by his wife to live in one of the rooms of the house. He has become senile and has only one elderly visitor with whom he shares drinks in the evenings and talks fast, throwing names of known economists and sociologists.
The play opens on a dramatic note with the entry of the younger sister in the house of the elder after years of estrangement. The elder sister is hostile and has not forgiven her for her betrayal. She has managed to run the household with a certain degree of economic independence by working hard as a tailoring entrepreneur. Supporting an unfaithful and socially disgraced husband, she confronts her sister with bitterness. Now her only hope for happiness rests on her son, who is academically brilliant and is working for a multinational company.
Over the years Torit has honed his craft as a playwright. The thematic element that forms the triangle is revealed in the course of the interactions of the characters. Torit sets his theme in the postmodernist society in which the concepts of love, filial obligation, compassion, political ideology and religious beliefs have lost their conventional meaning. In such a deeply fragmented society the individual stands alone, naked.
The director and actors create a tense atmosphere on stage, which enables the performers to reveal the inner conflict of their characters. The device of offstage music reinforces the right mood. The use of mannequins and actors’ bodies further creates visual imagery that reflects the dilemma of contemporary man. Anjon Bose has designed the set with ingenuity, showing detailed nuances of the ambience — the blue set evokes the mood of pathos and helplessness of human condition. The result is a production that is fresh, poignant and evocative.
As the play unfolds, we watch a grotesque image moving on the stage in the dim light, as if it were writhing in excruciating pain. This image symbolises the miserable plight of the common man. The director uses the element of irony with greater effect towards the end by playing the tune of Communist Internationale in the background, resurrecting the idea that the hope of humanity lies in socialism.
The performers enhance the value of the text with their brilliant acting. Ruma Bose as Ishani Banerjee, the younger sister, gives her character gusto despite the fact that her character is suffering from a terminal disease. In the climactic scene, while confronting her anguished sister and her husband, her pent-up emotions come to the fore with a fury that stuns the audience. Shashi Guha, as Abhiroop Sanyal, the disgraced professor and economist, and Rana Mitra, as the friend of the professor, project the image of defeated, humiliated and neglected humanity. Ruby Dasgupta as Indrani Sanyal, the wife of the professor, acts admirably. Indrajit Das as the common man creates an intensely living image that pricks the conscience of the audience. Nilanjan Guha as Aditya Sanyal is the quintessential postmodern youth.