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“Annapurna Boarding” by Just Natak Delivers another Hit Comedy

July 2006
“Annapurna Boarding” by Just Natak Delivers another Hit Comedy

The Winter Theatre, Agnes Scott College, buzzed with Bengali theatre-lovers on Saturday June 10th, to see the Just Natak group stage its second play, "Annapurna Boarding." After their successful debut last year with "Honeymoon," Just Natak rose to expectations by presenting an entertaining family comedy with two hours of light-hearted drama.

The evening began with a beautiful rendition of the song "Swagatam," which was composed by Pandit Ravi Shankar and rendered by Rakhi Banerjee, Rupa Bhaumik, Sriparna Das, Sujeet Phanse, Atrayee Roy Choudhury, Suzanne Sen, Saibal Sengupta, and Subra Viswanathan. Amitava Sen conducted and recorded the music for the song with Rafi Akbarzada, M. H. Akmal, Tirthankar Dasgupta, Shekhar Pendalwar, Aditya Shrivastava, Apurva Shrivastava, and Subra Viswanathan.

The play "Annapurna Boarding" was scripted by Just Natak's Rakhi Banerjee, based on a very popular Bengali movie "Shaarey Chuattor" and directed by Dipankar Mitra who kept the actors motivated over six months of rehearsal.

The story set in Kolkata in the 1950's, revolves around the lives of young and old male boarders in Annapurna Boarding House The young boarders comprises of the affluent boarding house President, Rampreeti, the body-builder Kamakkhya, and Kedar, an insurance agent from Bangladesh. The elderly boarders include Kali-devotee Akhil-babu and the critical snuff-sniffing Shib-babu. The witty and wily servant, Madan, attends to all their needs. The boarding house is run by the middle-aged manager, Rajani-babu, who goes back to his village home once a week to look after his wife Bokul and his young children, one of whom is named Charu.

Rajani-babu and Bokul, an odd couple, are forever bickering like an overseer and a laborer. Their conjugal life like most scenarios has the breadwinner away from home on business, while the wife runs the family single-handedly. Yet, they are a fairly happily married couple.

Suddenly Rajani-babu's niece, Padma, appears along with her lazy husband Aghor and daughter Ramola. They are homeless and seek shelter at the boarding house. The life of the male boarders is suddenly turned topsy-turvy by the arrival of the beautiful Padma. Even in the remote village, Bokul's life becomes so unbearable that she has to take the advice of her close friend, Shokhi, to invite the Ojha Joggeswar to work his magic.

This was possibly the first play where two veteran actors of the Atlanta Bengali community, Partha Mukherjee and Pranab Lahiri, performed together, in the roles of the elderly Shib-babu and Akhil-babu. The younger set, represented by Abhijeet Hazra as Rampreeti, Saibal Sengupta as Kamakkhya, and Amitava Sen as Kedar, kept the audience captivated by their depiction of a bachelor's life, with bouts of comedy, fraternity, romance, and jealousy. Amitava Sen rendered Dhaka's Bangla accent fluently in his exuberant portrayal of Kedar. M.H. Akmal, as Madan, the witty servant, delivered many of the punch lines of the play. Dibyendu De, as the lazy Aghor, and Bob Ghosh as Joggeswar tickled the audience into fits of laughter. Ria Rakhit as Shokhi, and Mala Basu as Padma portrayed their roles with authenticity. Jaba Ghosh depicted Ramola with �lan. Budding talent, Naomi Rob, acted in the role of Charu. Dipankar Mitra was striking as the complex character Rajani-babu.

The shining star of the evening was Rakhi Banerjee, as Bokul. Rakhi, a well known individual in Atlanta for her melodious singing, wowed the audience with her natural and superb performance.

Amitava Sen provided the background music and sound effects for the play, along with Mridul Paul, who managed the stage. Mamata Paul provided prompting of lines to the actors.. Volunteers, family and friends of the performers helped make "Annapurna Boarding" another successful play by the Just Natak group.

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