Just Natak’s comedy play based on election time shenanigans
Atlanta’s Bengali theatre group Just Natak presented Kobi Kahini, a comedy based on election time shenanigans, by noted playwright Badal Sarkar on June 7, 2008, at the Meadowcreek High School auditorium. Directed by Dipankar Mitra, this was the third play by the Just Natak group. An appreciative audience of theatre lovers attended this annual event.
The play chosen was apt for this election year in the USA. Richa Sarkar, the emcee, opened the evening by reciting a poem, “Election Year Litany,” written by Bruce Niedt during the last presidential election, in 2004. A satire on both the candidates, it was translated to Bengali for this occasion by Amitava Sen, who also provided musical accompaniment on the violin.
In Kobi Kahini (or Poet Story), Monibhushan, a local businessman in a small town in Bengal, has been nominated for an assembly seat. At the same time, his wife, Supriti, who runs a literary magazine, Bhaswati, is organizing a literary conference and wishes to invite a famous modern poet, Smarajit Sanyal, as chief guest, hoping to get an unpublished work from the poet for her magazine. Supriti and daughter Lily, who are both fans of the poet, convince Monibhushan that the conference will be important in garnering female votes for him in the election.
Aurobindo, heir to another local business and the favored fiancé for Lily, is doing odd jobs in Monibhushan’s election campaign, and Mohun, a neighborhood mastan, who also has an eye for Lily, gets his followers to work for Monibhushan in return for regular supplies of singaras and rasgollas. Meanwhile, Chidananda Bhrahmachari, the rival candidate, has spread several malignant rumors about Monibhushan and his family, and Monibhushan needs to find someone to write apposite responses to those slanders. He finds in Sanat, the local high school Bengali teacher still on probation, just the person for the job. Atal, a senior party leader, is however cynical about Monibhushan’s campaign, and thinks it is a lost cause. In this situation, the poet Smarajit Sanyal arrives—or does he? The audience knows, but not Monibhushan and his family. The tangles are unraveled over the next two days.
Individual performances by the cast members were highly appreciated by the audience. Dibyendu De as Aurobindo, Jaba Ghosh as Lily, Mridul Paul as Monibhushan,
M. H. Akmal as Panchu, Achintya Dey as Mohun, Mala Basu as Supriti, Amitava Sen as Sanat, Dipankar Mitra as Atal, and Partha Mukherjee as the poet Smarajit Sanyal kept the audience engrossed in this witty dialogue-based play.
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