Historical chapters bring with them many lessons, chef among them empathy. And so does the latest production that’s hitting Dubai’s The Junction stage.
‘Thana Theke Aschi’ is a Bengali play, directed by theatre veteran Pradipto Dutta and adapted from the English play ‘An Inspector Calls’ by J. B. Priestley.
This period drama draws us into 1950s Calcutta, where an inspector shows up at the door of an elite family and questions them about a poor girl’s suicide.
Dutta explains the lure of this production. “I have always been attracted to subjects which are real and which convey a message, leaves the audience with a food for thought when they leave the theatre. This play portrays a very real image of the human society and like every classic, is timeless and relevant even today,” he explains.
He adds: “It is a classic and classics never get outdated. It reflects the basic human nature, our social behaviour and outlook, which even after 70 years of when the play was originally written, has still not completely reversed or changed. ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ - the adage is still very true.
Going back in time needs to be a subtle affair – it’s easy to fall into the trap of caricature when reproducing an era. But, insists director Dutta, this field of landmines has been safely navigated by the crew. “There has been reasonable research that we had done on the set design and we were careful not to overdo it and not to try any unnecessary exaggeration on the acting and the decor either. We touched upon key items, key period references and stuck to the plot, while using the era as the backdrop,” he says.
He point to the sound of a doorbell, the look of a telephone, a song on a gramophone as tools used to set the scene. “These details have been worked upon consciously, but we have not unnecessarily tried to "act" as the Victorian style of acting and create a caricature,” he says.
There is of course a difference between this iteration, written by playwright Ajit Bandopadhyay and the original – for one thing, there’s an add-on character; Sub-Inspector Tinkori Haldar.
Sourav Banerjee, who plays the part, says: ““Bringing a cult character back on stage is always special. The audience will have expectations, but I would like to take up the challenge and add to the dimension of character of Sub-Inspector Tinkori Haldar.”
The story dives into societies inequalities, teasing out epiphanies - facts clouded by bias, truth wrapped in society’s lies. Yes, there is a lesson to be learned from the past … it’s time to listen.
Thana Theke Aschi will be staged at The Junction from December 2 to December 4, 2021, with daily evening shows at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at Dh100.