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Shab Charitra Kalponik: The Imagined Real

Science and common belief have been at loggerheads for ages now. Legendary writer Parashuram, a chemist and a lexicographer as well, has presented the contest with unending wit and literary precision way back in eighties. The resolve of the theatre group, Beadon Street Subham, to work relentlessly with children of all strata of society for more than 25 years has reached another milestone with the production of 'Shab Charitra Kalponik' based on the famous supernatural thriller 'Mahesher Mahajatra' by Rajsekhar Basu aka Parashuram. The group's first full length production leaves the audience in awe. Here, the playwright, Kallol Lahiri has done his job well by keeping the flavor of the satirical suspense and complexity of the original story intact.

Mahesh and Harinath, professors of mathematics and philosophy respectively, are bosom friends who become confrontational when it comes to the existence of ghosts and the surreal world. Their conflict reaches a position of no return when they stoop to petty levels to win the argument and prove their own ideologies true. The skirmish reaches a point where they do not even hesitate to exploit their students to ascertain their supremacy. The game ends in the tragic death of one of the friends, the mystery of which is unfolded with the progress of the play. Souparno Roy as Mahesh and Anamitra Khan as Harinath play their part well. Bibek Dey as inspector Dutta tries his level best to mix humor with the strong character of an investigating officer. Arpita Khan in her small role as Anjali shows promise in acting. Animated presentation by the other young artists keeps the energy level of the production always on the high.

Anamitra's directorial maturity and artistic fervor of storytelling is reflected well on stage. I am especially reminded of the acts of the classroom with philosophical annotations from one friend countered by mathematical analysis of the other, the eeriness generated on stage in the burial ground and in the scene of carrying the dead body. The semblance of the props looks minimalistic but meaningful. The tempo of the play slows down a bit in the second half when the focus tilts on the hackneyed expressions in the arrangement of carrying the dead body. The director could have done away with few of the dance sequences too. Subhankar Dey as light designer, Nabendu Sengupta as costume designer, and stage designer Moni Bhadra Sahu need a special mention in this production.

Kudos to the director of Beadon Street Subham, Ashis Khan, the man behind the spectacle whose 'never give up' approach is an inspiration for his team members. Despite his own busy schedule in city courts for his professional endeavour, he has never fallen short in his continuous efforts to reach out to young minds with the magic potion of theatre. Good to see how his son, the debutant director Anamitra, a post graduate in Physics, has shouldered the responsibilities of the endangered art form by raising new hopes for the future.

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