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Not lost in translation

SRAVASTI DATTA
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THEATRE Simantini, a Bengali adaptation of Somerset Maugham's A Constant Wife, was much like a gripping serial replete with suspense and humour

FLOWING WELL The actors were all in character photo: murali kumar k.
FLOWING WELL The actors were all in character photo: murali kumar k.

Adaptation— as Salman Rushdie once pointed out in an article in The Guardian — “can be a creative as well as a destructive force”.

Great care ought to be taken while translating an original text so as not to lose its essence. However, with Meghnad Bhattarcharya, one of the finest theatre artists in Bengal, adapting Somerset Maugham's “A Constant Wife” on stage, this aspect has been well taken care of.

Enad, a well-known Bengali theatre group, recently staged “The Constant Wife” (“Simantini) in Bengali at ADA Rangamandira.

From the very first act and scene, the tone of the play was set. The acting was natural, the scenes flowed well into each other and the comic timing was impeccable.

Translated by Utpal Jha and directed by Sayandeb Bhattacharya, “Simantini” is set in an upper-class home in Kolkata, “Simantini” revolves around Kaninika, a calm and intelligent lady, married to a wealthy surgeon.

However, a secret involving Kaninika, is kept from her by her mother, sister and friends — her husband's extra-marital affair with Kaninika's friend, the coquettish and feather-brained friend, Rangeela.

Kaninika's husband is secure in the belief that his wife knows nothing of his affair while Rangeela finds it easy to manipulate her love-struck husband, Pashupati that nothing is amiss. As Kaninika's family struggles to keep her away from the loop, Kaninika leads her life to the fullest and even revives a long-lost close friendship with a male friend. During the course of the play, it's slowly revealed that Kaninika is well aware of her husband's philandering. She's told about it eventually, but her reaction to the revelation surprises everyone, including her husband and friend. It is Kaninika who triumphs over all. It's interesting to see how she resorts neither to divorce nor to shutting herself from her husband to get even. The wonder of the play lies in its ending.

The first half of the play breezed past without a single hitch. The actors were in character and their reactions snappy.

For a moment, one felt that the story was much like a gripping Bengali serial, complete with a good plot and humour. The second half, however, did flag in parts.

The sets were beautiful and evocative of a typical drawing room drama. The stage management was neat and Swati De, Priyanka Bhattacharya, Tisha Banerjee and Sayandeb Bhattacharya put up a wonderful performance. SRAVASTI DATTA

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