To celebrate the sesquicentenary of St Xavier’s College, its Alumni Association and the Xaverian Theatrical Society staged Parashuram’s A Medical Crisis — Revisited, adapted from the original Chikitsa Sankat in Sukanta Chaudhuri’s English translation. The script, by Ashis Siddhanta, stayed fairly close to its source, with some anachronistic interpolations that contemporized its satire on the mumbo-jumbo of all medicinal treatments and practitioners, whether allopathy, homeopathy, ayurveda or unani, upon an unsuspecting hypochondriac grazed on the street by a car. The trilingual dialogue, however, did not convince, since Siddhanta did not adequately justify the switches from English to Bengali and back — they often sounded arbitrary, hence unrealistic. The live chorus and music, conducted by Abhijit Roy, contributed more appreciably to the impact. As in all collegiate productions, the student acting varied unevenly from the workmanlike to the journeymanlike, yet remained within the overall ambit of farcical caricature, not far removed from high-school high jinks. I do believe that St Xavier’s deserves a more august full-length theatrical tribute to mark this major milestone, a more serious and ambitious enterprise that Xaverians will remember with pride.
The announcement of the ‘annual function’ of a dance institution conjures up images of huge groups of dancers in various phases of development flaunting their art on stage. While quality is not a given on such occasions, enthusiasm certainly is. Indrani Dutta Kala Niketan’s sixth annual show at Kala Mandir on November 2 initially seemed no different. The evening began with short segments of Kathak and Bharatnatyam in which students and teachers put up a colourful display. As always, the very young attracted a lot of applause. The latter half was reserved for Tollywood actress Indrani Dutta’s piece, Jakhan Kono Swapno Dekhi, where she was the lead dancer. Clearly the pièce de resistance of the evening, it featured a medley of Bengali songs of different genres and moods that provided the framework for a dance collage. Dutta, a Kathak dancer by training, has a supple body that lent itself easily to the ‘contemporary’ patterns designed by Sukalyan Bhattacharya and Yogesh Patkar. Inevitably, there was a surfeit of glamour and showbiz glitz in the costumes (by Agnimitra Paul), make-up, laser lighting and props. Supported by a clutch of lithe dancers, Dutta took care to look her part in much the same way as she would in her films. So this ‘annual function’ turned out to be rather different from its prototypes.