Many years ago, I heard a strange story. I was told, that there was this Bengali man (in New York or New Jersey) who had a weird hobby. Although I don’t know if one can call this a hobby. This man, whenever he went on a trip to Kolkata, would put an advertisement in the matrimonial section of the local Bengali daily looking for a bride for himself. He would then go to a selected number of respondents house to interview the potential bride, enjoy their hospitality and a sumptuous meal. But his intention was not to marry the girls he saw, for he had a wife and family back here in USA. I struggled hard to comprehend his motive. It was difficult to imagine that this man, who lived in USA, would do this only to enjoy a free meal each evening. Was this some kind of a perverted adventure? What was he looking for? What drove him to do such a terrible thing? Although I am not sure if this story was true at all, but it intrigued me nevertheless. I thought, there must be more to this story than what meets the eyes (or ears). And this thought was the seed for my latest play, “Anahuta Sandhya”.
No, “Anahuta Sandhya” is not the same story. It is a story of a man desperately looking for love and companionship. It is a story of a daughter trying to find her father. It is a story of a woman trying to salvage her self-esteem and her trust in humanity. Each of the seven characters in the play desperately seek something that’d provide some meaning to their existence. “Anahuta Sandhya” literally means, “An Uninvited Evening”. But no evening waits for an invitation. They arrive in our life, whether we want them or not. We either try to enjoy the evening with our companions or just wait for it to progress towards the night.
The story of “Anahuta Sandhya” starts when on a lonely evening, uninvited strangers arrive at our protagonist Ashis Sen’s residence. Some are true strangers while some have become strangers over time. Just as one of the characters in the play say, “It’s easy to get acquainted, but to know someone may take ages,” we often find that we are living amongst strangers. The person whom we think we know might be someone quite different. And when that truth is revealed, we feel shocked. We feel vulnerable. Our world falls apart, and we try to cling to the fragile bonds of relationships that are created quite accidentally between strangers. Strangers who arrive uninvited into our lives.
As a director, I have tried to keep the presentation simple and straight forward. One can classify this play as another “drawing room drama”, but most secrets of our lives are often exposed in our drawing rooms. So instead of stylized stagecraft and offbeat theatrical performances, I wanted to focus more on characterization and the subtextual nuances. Staying close to “realism”, my intention has been to highlight the “unreal” and “absurdity” of our lives that often resembles a dream or maybe a nightmare – take your pick.
The cast of this play consists of a nice balance of experienced veteran thespians and relatively new actors. Many of ECTA’s regular audience are familiar with Subhodev Das and Soumendu Bhattacharya, both of whom are playing significant roles in the play. We also have Tinty Bose, Rana Ray, Navneet Goswami, Sreya Mukherjee and Sutapa Mukhopadhyay. The backstage is handled by an experienced bunch whom you typically see on stage – Sankar Ghoshal (stage), Abhijit Neogy (lights), Dwaipayan Mukherjee (sound), Aparajita Das (production), Kaushik Datta (SuperTitles) and Srijita Singh (stage). The entire team is trying their best to put up a good performance.
Like many of my previous plays, “Anahuta Sandhya” has its own share of humor. Humor can often serve as an effective shield to camouflage the hidden pains. An intelligent theater goer peels through this layer of humor and absurdity to discover the underlying truth. And it is the job of the playwright, director and the actor to guide the audience through this game of discovery. I hope you join us in this fun game.