Stage Adaptation of Films to a New Level
By Hemanth Reddy S 02/01/2016

 KOLKATA: Bratya Basu Rediscovers Ritwik Ghatak's `Meghe Dhaka Tara' For Theatre On January 2, the first show of Bratya Basu's `Meg he Dhaka Tara', which has been adapted from the cult Ritwik Gha tak film, will hit the stage, reviving a trend that once gave Bengal some of its most popular plays. Films like `Ogo Bodhu Sundori', `Sarey Chuattor', `Golpo Holeo Sotti' and even `Uttor Falguni' formed the basis for several popular plays. However, once professional theatre and mainstream cinema saw a decline in Bengal, it resulted in a vacuum in the stage adaptation space. Sporadic attempts were made, but they were largely restricted to films of the '60s. 

Comparison with the stars' performances in cult films is the biggest challenge for stage adaptations. For literary adaptations, the play is judged only on textual references. But for plays adapted from films, it is a different matter. Paltry budget comes in the way of matching the production quality of films. 

Basu, for instance, has shot some scenes from the play and is using audio-visual element in the backdrop of the play . Yet challenges remain since there will be comparisons with Supriya Devi and Anil Chatterjee in the Ghatak original. Basu's next adaptation is Tapan Sinha's `Golpo Holeo Sotti'. Santoshpur Aarshi group has already done a stage adaptation of this 1966 film. 

"This was the first production of our group. We wanted a play that the audience could relate to and this film's subject seemed apt. Actor Subrata Burman has been appreciated for his performance in the charac ter played by Robi Ghosh. However, we sought permission from Sinha's son Anindya before staging it," said director Suman Adhikary . Since May, Adhikary has done four shows. The next is on January 12. 

Actor-director Kaushik Sen ` had adapted `Thana Theke l Aschi' in 2013. The same title had earlier been used in two films, one directed by Hiren Nag in 1965 and the other by Saran Dutta in 2010. The original source of all these was J B Priestley's play `The Inspector Calls'. "But my play was adapted from Ajit Gangopadhyay's adaptation of Priestley's work," Sen clarified. 

Some believe Kolkata's group theatre veterans will avoid cinema adaptations since most contemporary films haven't reached the cult status that merits such attempts. According to Sen, "Professional theatre did this. Prominent among these was a stage adaptation of `Manmoyee Girls School'. Group theatre had a different orientation.They were Left-leaning and keen on experimentation and concerned more with world theatre adaptations. Today , there are so many texts still available. The group theatre sector will prefer relooking at them." 

But if he had to adapt, he would opt for Srijit Mukherji's Rajkahini' or Churni Gangu y's `Nirbasito'. "These films, and not something like the successful `Belaseshe', might inspire me to do a play," Sen said. 

Family's permission must for adapting Ghatak films: Daughter 

Minister and theatre personality Bratya Basu invited Ritwik Ghatak's daughter Samhita to the premiere of his stage adaptation of `Meghe Dhaka Tara' on Friday.But Samhita won't be able to attend the show and has requested for a DVD recording of the play to be sent to her mother Surama. She also wants to issue a public notice that the family's permission is a must for any adaptionremake of a Ghatak film. 

"We have asked her to attend our first show," Bratya told TOI. Samhita said she got in touch with the theatre group after coming to know of the play. "Bratya Basu called me up. I suggested that they mention that this play is a tribute to my father. I also requested them to send me a letter stating what they are doing. Based on that, I want to give my observations. Now that this play has already been done, I'll watch it," she said. 

Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen films haven't been adapted in any medium without prior permission.Samhita insists that the Ritwik Memorial Trust, of which she is a signing authority, be informed before any adaptation of her father's scripts is done on any media platform. "Unlike other directors, my father used to write his own scripts. I have the censored scripts on me. How can we allow just about anyone to remake or adapt cult films of my father without knowing the content and skillset of the people involved in the project?" she asked. "My father wanted his work to be spread across people. So we are keen that it happens. But seeking the family's permission is mandatory," she said.

Source: TOI

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