19 Jun 2016: Natak Phatak A Bold Attempt in adapting an English Film on a Bengal Stage

Kolkata Rangeela started its journey as a new theatre group in March 2014. But even before that, Kaushik Kar, the chieftain of this family, took baby steps towards such a giant leap of forming a potential team, by performing with Minerva Repertory Theatre in a play named Sarpamasta, directed by a veteran in the field, Debesh Roy Chowdhury. Kaushik did not have to look back after that. With more zeal, and, oodles of enthusiasm, he went to adapt a screen success like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for the stage. And lately, the mind blowing performance at Academy of Fine Arts kept the audience spell-bound.

No doubt, Jack Nicholson had obviously brought Ken Kessey’s Randle P Mc Murphy to life, almost impeccably. His ‘contagious sense of disorder’ sent a heavy jolt to the otherwise drab routine of the mental hospital. The open tussle between the ‘coolly monstrous’ Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) and Murphy took a sinister turn when Murphy was sent for lobotomy and subsequently he had been deliberately stifled to death by his friend-admirer, an inmate of the hospital, who could not bear with Murphy’s zombie-like state. Kaushik Kar has adapted  the film brilliantly with a  message of his own, that  holds out an immediate appeal to the masses—theatre can relieve us of all tensions, theatre can bring a sea-change in the society and hence, theatre should be looked upon  not just as a  mode of entertainment but as a panacea. Louise Fletcher’s role is deftly played by Sangita Pal, though, the scowl set on her face permanently is deterrent to the already moribund ambience of the infirmary. The way she announces, “This is time for having medicine” everyday, is more than enough to drive anyone crazy, leave any patient half-dead. And, Kaushik, Patient No. 10, gets determined to bring a gush of fresh air by enlivening the ambience by talking about his past, sharing snippets of humour, encouraging all to celebrate a day outside the stuffy atmosphere of the asylum, enjoying a theatrical show at Rabindra Sadan. But, all his efforts waste away as he is pontificated on the altar of vengeance by the Nurse who he disobeyed, even laughed at.

Flawless may not be the production, but, the stamp of originality can hardly be glossed over. Kudos to Kaushik and Jayishnu Bhattacharya for presenting such an electrifying show to the audience. They expect more of Kaushik and Jayishnu in the years to come.

Report by: Dr Ketaki Datta, Associate Professor of English, Bidhannagar Government College, Kolkata

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