16 April 2016

What the DUCK just happened ?


The Nautanki Company staged a re-show of Mind Duck, written and directed by Tejodipto Panda on the 11th of April at Gyan Manch. Honestly, even though a few days have passed by, the images have not left this reviewer’s mind. Rather than calling it unpredictable, one would like to call the play unexpected.

The play begins with a monologue by one of the central characters Nikita which was portrayed by Roshni Banerjee. Roshni Banerjee connected to the audience when she broke the fourth wall and even when she did not. Nikita’s character was relatable and relatably portrayed. She is an SRFTI graduate who, after struggling a lot and facing both the sides of the film industry, has finally managed to crack a deal for her own feature film. Her boyfriend Abhijit or Jeetu, portrayed by Debasish Halder, is a struggling actor. He is tired of being the supporting actor on screen and seeks an identity more than ‘the lead character’s best friend’ on a TV show. Ironically, Nikita casts him as a supporting actor as well and NOT for the lead.

Julia Banerjee as Nandini &
 Debashish Halder as Abhijit

The lead roles are given to Ronodeep and Nandini portrayed by Mrinmoy Chatterjee and Julia Banerjee respectively. Nandini gave up her dreams to be an actor and got an MBBS degree instead , for a stable and not a struggler’s life and Ronodeep or Rana is a ‘passionate’ actor. He projects his insanity and frustrations of being an actor on his girlfriend, Indu, portrayed by Chandrika Majumdar. Other characters included the doctor portrayed by Sayantani Mukhopadhyay and Miss Goswami portrayed by Vindhya Gupta.

Roshni Banerjee as Nikita & Mrinmoy Chatterjee as  Ronodeep

A review is not supposed to summarise the play and considering the plot of Mind Duck, it would be a shame to break the story. The chemistry between the actors was good, especially Chandrika and
Mrinmoy and later – Mrinmoy and Sayantani. Every actor slipped into the skin of their characters
brilliantly. The stage design was nice and easy with minor set changes but the Light design was
commendable. The flashlights with a live rewind of scenes happening on stage was indeed Mind Duck.

Meet Indu (played by Chandrika Majumdar)

However, one does wish that the head microphones wouldn’t hit a tall actor’s head and the sound had
lesser glitches. But then again, nothing is perfect and a stage show is BOUND to have one drawback.
The only thing that the reviewer wishes to disclose about the plot is, you will know how the play lives up to the name once you’ve seen it.

ExPRESS MAGAZINE reporters had a nice time in a conversation with the founder of The Nautank Company, Tejodipta Panda :-


First of all, congratulations on a successful show of your latest production, Mind Duck. How is the air in The Nautanki Company green room?

  • It’s really nice. Everyone is pumped up. They’re getting paid and some creative satisfaction as well. The wavelengths are finally matching with the people, everyone is finally coming to the same dynamic and mental structure. Everyone is gelling together, the old and the new actors are all getting to know each other, different energies are oozing out. It’s nice, if you’re profiting and getting paid, it’s really nice and then you’re having a great party after that. And the party matters!

This was a play written and directed by yourself, what was the source of inspiration?

  • I wrote this play two years ago, it was first staged at that time. At that point of time, I used to stay awake at night and not interact with anyone. So there was a brain space and I used to watch a lot of videos. I was into a lot of thing together. Back then, I was switching from Shah Rukh Khan to Kevin Spacey, from Lucky’s monologue to a Haider monologue. So, all were jotted down and the main character sort of imbibed those qualities out of it. It is also a lot if real life inspiration. About direction, I think I’m improving at it. I’ll try my best to do a better job next time since I believe I can improve a lot. We experimented a lot of things, a new sequence all together, the rewind sequence, which people are talking about and I’m really happy about it. We incorporated that two days before the play. It just struck me and I thought that we have to do it. we practiced it a lot and added it to the run-through, we’ve already had a run-through before that but we still added it. So, it sort of gelled in.

What, according to you, was the USP of the stage performance?

  • Hard-work, that’s all. Everyone, all the actors, worked really very hard. People going up on stage for the first time, who haven’t acted since school, they worked very hard to put up a professional show so that no one can come up to me and say things like, ‘this actor didn’t perform well enough’. But honestly I believe that we can still improve and perform much better and everyone is working really hard for that.

Why did you incorporate Lucky’s (Waiting for Godot) speech through the character of Rana?

  • I think Lucky’s monologue is one of the finest monologues and I felt that Mrinmoy could pull it off and he did an amazing job too. Though I think, he could do better, in fact, everyone could do better. I’m not saying that this is a static level of theatre but since we are in Kolkata, we’re being appreciated a lot for that monologue. I feel that if we go out with that monologue, we’ve to do much better. We can improve. But why Lucky’s speech? Because it just suited the character and I felt that a Rana would constantly browse through a Lucky’s monologue on YouTube. That’s what I felt the character would do. 

What are the upcoming ventures of your team?

Team Nautanki Company at Gyan Manch

  • We have a new production coming up in June. We can’t perform in May because we have exams. Most of us are still in college. So, we’re performing a play in June, it hasn’t been named yet though in my mind I have a name. Let’s see. And in July, Carcinogen is coming back. 

How did formation of The Nautanki Company come about?

  • It’s 12th of April today (THE INTERVIEW WAS DATED BACK IN THE 12TH OF APRIL), it’s our second birthday! (Interviewer:- Oh! Happy Birthday.) Yeah, happy birthday to my baby too. Two and a half years ago, in December I had left the previous group I was working with and I was just brainstorming more and more ideas with Roshni. We decided we could start something. We already had quite a few people who were interested and so we started off as a small group and we’ve been developing ever since. 

Was there the necessary support from around you while you started off?

  • To be very fair, theatre will never get its necessary support. Yeah I did get a lot of support. But theatre will never get its necessary support because the moment you start doing good work, there will be other people trying to pull you down, mentally. Like right now I know, if I was making a small technical glitch two years ago, people would’ve been like, ‘achha, thik hain, chalta hain’. But now since people are starting to take us somewhat seriously, those glitches can’t be made. And we’re pricing our tickets at 150 bucks so we can’t make those glitches too. If you’re performing well and you’ve 400-600 people watching you, it’s not enough. You always want more people, more re-shows. You basically want Kolkata to support you, you need a market here that’ll follow theatre on a regular basis so that one doesn’t have to go about asking people to buy the tickets. When you’re getting good reviews, you expect people to come back for the next show as well. I just hope for people to be enthusiastic enough to buy the tickets on their own. So a regular theatre market would help the cause.

What is it that keeps you and your team always motivated?

  • Everyone has their personal motivation. I can’t answer for the team, probably they also want to develop the group, that could be their motivation. Speaking for myself, when I was very young, like in class 4, I tried out a lot of things like drums, cricket, and chess. But I thought I could be better at something like directing a play or acting in one. Thus, wanting to be better every time motivates me. So that one day or the other, I’ll be close enough to be called the best.

Do you plan on performing outside of the city anytime soon?

  • Yes. Whenever we get a chance. It’s about getting the crew together. It’ll be easier when all of us pass out from college, then everyone is free and it’ll be easier for us to travel. I have performed outside the city but the crew hasn’t done that yet.

Whose passions are higher on the charts? Director Tejodipto or actor Tejodipto?

  • (smiles) Thespian Tejodipto.

Lastly, a token of advice for the keen young theatre enthusiasts, please?

  • I would say this for everyone actually, not just for the young ones. It’s very important to get educated in this field first. Read. Attend workshops. And then, try out your luck!

COVERAGE BY :- Priyadarshini Mukherjee, Sucharita Ganguly and Sourya Chakraborty.

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