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Cravings between life and death

Cravings between life and death

Bratya Basu's literary invasion into the near-death experience (NDE) is a twist in the tale of otherwise a gripping story of soul searching of a fatally injured man in the coma. The playwright chooses a middle-class Bengali protagonist who represents the perception of the entire class about their daily chores, ambitions, accomplishments, failure, wiliness, inherent family politics and their rationale to defend themselves in their lives.

The play progresses lyrically by dissecting the mind of the protagonist and constructing the discourse of a common man in the society who struggles hard in balancing between building his career and struggling for a satisfactory family life. He stumbles quite often to get up again and move on. His vices and dogmas are generally criticised hard in his society but he shows the courage to confront them. 'Ami Anukulda ar Ora' is a short play which blends the real with surreal, moves between likelihood and implausibility, revolves around dreams and reality of a commoner by indicting and challenging the social system.

Avi Chakraborty of Asoknagar Natyamukh has shown noticeable maturity in producing a difficult play. He has skillfully brought OBE (out of the body experience) on stage to handgrip the enormity and spread of introspection. Somesh, 54 years of age, a marketing manager of a private firm, meets with a serious accident and slips into unconsciousness with a little chance of recovery. It is in this condition that reality and dreams cross boundaries when his friend of yesteryears, Anukulda, comes to visit Somesh. We see Somesh in his teens in dialogue with Anukulda, whose nagging and blunt behavior irks him but reminds him of his nostalgic past.

The most poetic, emotive and surrealistic part of the play happens when his unborn, aborted daughter who if born would have been a teenager, comes to visit him to remind Somesh of his complex intimate relation with his wife. The playwright's creative resourcefulness brings the kindliness of a father-child conversation which silently makes the Electra complex perceptible between them. In the concluding part, Somesh faces 'Godot' of Samuel Beckett where he admits that while he might have faced 'Iblish' to experience 'hell' on earth, he still wishes to live for a minority few for whom it is worth living.

Charming Rishav Basu as Somesh is very good in his role in the play. He, with his impressive diction and gracious body movement, carries the play effortlessly on his shoulders as a protagonist. Equally dexterous is Sumanta Roy in his role as Anukulda. He challenges Rishav quite often with his natural acting and undoubtedly proves his potential as an actor of promise. Avipsa Ghosh as Somesh's daughter shows her growing determination to be a great actor on stage. Sandipan Chatterjee is good in his role as God.

Director, Avi Chakraborty, keeps the stagecraft simple where he demarcates the frontal part of the stage to perform the out of the body experience and the rear part as the Nursing home, the reality. The transportation from conscious to the subconscious is subtle and is done aesthetically. Special mention of Saumik Chakraborty is required here for his fascinating set design. Music and background score of Dishari and Light designing by old-timer Sudip Sanyal make the production complete. The playwright's elucidation of the importance of an employed middle-class life with values and contradictions amidst negativities in the world brings a wave of fresh air for us to inhale deep and take our lives forward.

Mainak Banerjee

Mainak Banerjee

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