Monday, June 17, 2013

Theatre Review: Bagia Bancharam Ki

A scene from the play
The play ‘Bagia Bancharam Ki’ produced by Sri Ram Center Repertory Company, tickles the audience to a great extent but also transcends to a higher level and raises critical questions about the society and its structure.

The play has been written by veteran Manoj Mitra, originally in Bangla as ‘Sajano Bagaan’ and has been directed by veteran thespian Bahrul Islam. The play has elements of humor, tragedy and alienation in certain parts.

The adaptation of Sajano Bagaan, Bagia Bancharam Ki, opens in what we can call a no man’s land. The plot of the play is obviously a village in any part of the country but has themes which can apply to any part of the world- any feudal society for that matter. The play unravels story of old Bancharam who is in his last days. He is also the owner of a fertile land, the Bagia (or Garden), which everybody wants to grab from him- from his grandson to the feudal lord, the Zamindar, of the village. He signs a contract with the Zamindar that after his death (which the Zamindar anticipates is nearby) the Bagia will go to theZamindar and no one else, but the Zamindar will give Bancharam Rupees Two Thousand till Bancha is alive. Different events take place and finally Bancha regains his health with the help of the money Zamindar gives him every month. The play ends with a dead Zamindar and healthy Bancharam.

The performance of Sameer Singh as Bancharam brings smile to the face of the audience whenever he comes on stage. He portrays the character of an ailing old man with ease. He also shows the change in his health without any exaggeration. As an actor he has brought many things in the play in form of his body language and accent. He proves to be a lovable old man.
Sameer Singh as a ‘healthy’ Bancharam

The character of Zamindar, played by Shrikant Verma, is extremely critical in the play. Shrikant shows his great acting skills and is able to steal the show. He has many moments for himself in the play. His subtle acting on many occasions, the ease and understanding of not exaggerating the performance, brings him close to a perfect performance. His subtle acting can be seen when he says the dialogue, “Baap ka maal pee gaya baithe-baithe Maa ke saamne.”

The play is extremely well written by veteran Manoj Mitra and the time lapse is shown smartly with the help of well inserted dialogues and gestures of the actors. The high point of the play is a moment when a very serious sequence is going on stage and suddenly it breaks. It is when Zamindar is trying to kill Bancharam, Padma- wife of Gopi- comes out from her bed and changes the mood of the scene. A very subtle change is shown, which is also a fine example of alienation by Manoj Mitra.

Other characters also add value to the performance. The character of Gopi, grandson of Bancharam, played by Mukesh Bhati, is good to a certain extent. But the actor tried to put too much energy in the performance that it lost its charm. It is still a good performance though. The Jhola Chaap Doctor Govind, who has got relatively less time on stage plays the character given to him with utter honesty and brings smile to the audience’s face whenever he is on stage. Even the lights, operated by Ravindra Mishra, were very well used with a red backdrop throughout the play.

Over all, it is a good production of a very well written play. The repeat show of the play is not to be missed by theatre lovers of the city.
Concluding scene of the play
This review was first published in My Theatre Cafe on June 17, 2013

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