Suranjana Dasgupta’s WHEELCHAIR

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Playwright & Director: Suranjana Dasgupta

Group: Nirbak Abhinay Academy, Kolkata

Language: Bengali

Duration: 1 hr 15 mins

The Play

Ashim and Joyita lives in their apparently normal household leading a conjugal life which seems to be a normal one, but gradually, their inner turmoil and unnatural co-existence penetrates the audience’s mind. Their attendants Mahadev and Chapala, are also dragged into the collisions somewhat unwillingly. Ashim is a crippled man, sitting all day in his wheelchair, due to an accident. The atmosphere turns claustrophobic when a mysterious apparition of Ashim is seen in the house. Joyita’s mind is troubled by the ghostly presence of a man who looks like her husband and is moving around the house like the past Ashim. She becomes psychologically ill and tries to escape. She provokes Ashim to commit suicide and Ashim turns her attempts to another game of clever torture. The play ends with Joyita’s ailing mind left to choose between the two – natural and the unnatural – where would she go?

Director’s Note

Directing plays for almost 25 years I have had a number of subjects to choose from, so I did social, mythological, historical and other plays. I kept the ‘time’ and ‘society’ as a consideration for choosing the subjects for my plays. The long journey as a theatre director taught me a number of things and brought me to these troubled times, when relationships and conjugal lives of men and women are at stake. A teleplay by a famous writer moved me and sowed the seed of Wheelchair. Though I did not take anything from that story, it somehow inspired me to write about the two characters Ashim and Joyita and their peculiarities. I had a discussion with one of my associates and getting positive inspiration from her, I chalked out the storyline immediately. Many sequences of the play were built during the rehearsals as we went on creating and discarding sequences. The play actually took shape while rehearsing – just like we do in workshops. I kept simple commonplace sentences for dialogues and the entire tension builds up mainly through acting and visual treats for the eye, taking the cinematic license of two similar looking men, at the same time using a dummy which is a novel thing. Apart from the technical marvels, what drove me strongly is the inner tension of the two characters and their collisions which gives the play its uniqueness. I believe in keeping a thriller short, as unnecessary stretching destroys its crispness. So only seven sequences say it all …

The Director & Playwright

Suranjana Dasgupta has acted in lead roles in productions directed by eminent directors of Kolkata. As a singer-actress she made a tremendous impact in Madhab Malanchi Koinya directed by Bibhas Chakrabarty and winning the prestigious West Bengal State Natya Academy award for the best actress in 1988, and in 2006 for Kanan Pisir Japomala. She has done workshops with Peter Brook in 1989, Marcel Marceau in 1986, Jean-Guy Lecut in 2006, and a playwright’s workshop with Alan Brody in 2007. She has written many original plays like Manadasundari, Kanan Pisir Japomala, Tukaalaam Durganaam and Wheelchair.

The Group

Nirbak Abhinay Academy, Kolkata was established in the year 1981 as a mime group by eminent mime artist Anjan Deb. The group participated in Natya Swapna Kalpa twice with their productions Dulai and Aar Ekjon Mahapurush. The group has produced children’s plays like Monikahini, Gachpakhalir Dukkhogatha, Bhusandir Maathe. It has produced Sita Theke Suru and Ratmohana based on Salman Rushdie’s novels and adapted by Sharmila Maitra.

Cast & Credits

On Stage: Anjan Deb, Suranjana Dasgupta, Sharmila Maitra, Anindita Biswas, Tanmoy Mazumdar

Set Design: SuranjanaDasgupta

Set Making: Madan Halder

Music Design: Kathakali Bhattacharya

Music Operation: Koushik Sajjan

Light Design: Niladree Bhattacharya

Light Operation: Raju Dhar

Make-up: Mahammad Israfil

Direction & Script: Suranjana Dasgupta

Manohar Khushalani

Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is Currently a Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he teaches are: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: www.onevorld.org and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: www.stagebuzz.in & www.stagebuzz.info He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He is an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

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