William Shakespeare’s Hamlet by Koushik Sen


Hamlet, a Swapnasandhani Production in collaboration with Bikram Dasgupta Foundation as reviewed by Sreelalitha Adavi – an ardent follower of Bengali Drama

“To die, to sleep – To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, For in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”

This is my second visit to Kolkata to watch this drama and here is my second review: Compared to the first version I saw – this one was more intensified from Riddhi at few sequences which I totally loved!

By: Sreelalitha Adavi

Kolkata: When the Shakespearean looks at this statement, blindly, one says it’s Hamlet’s dialogue – And that was brought to life on stage. What a pitch-perfect portrayal by Riddhi Sen, Sri Kaushik Sen and Reshmi Sen along with the entire cast of performers (sincere apologies, I wish I could remember the names of every single artist out there) on the stage in front of the eyes – felt as though I am reading Shakespeare’s original version illustrated in Bengali.

I proudly say that performing arts – theatre and drama as my first love – Kolkata has become my second home for, the love for drama is more into the DNA here where people respect and encourage where drama is becoming more of specimen kind of performing art.

For a moment, let’s park Hamlet as a play a side, and let’s talk a little about Theatre and drama or performing arts. With the new age of cinema and VFX effects, dupes every scene has multiple takes, which is a try–err and correct framework, thus, the product is super polished as a movie. But Performing art like dance, music, drama – Just as they say there is no space for two errors in business and war, on the stage, there is no scope for try and err – it is just perfection!

The most famous intro piece by sir was so into it and on the point, anything can happen once the curtain raises and that was legit. As mentioned by Peter Brook in his book “The Empty Space” – A stage space has two rules (Anything can happen and something must happen), Kaushik sir describes it so well in the introduction.

While the Hamlet story comes under Revenge tragedy, is kept as the main basis, the improvisations brought to the story were so realistic and the entire act in front of the eyes seemed flawless. The fineness brought by the performers, the transmuting emotions that were brought to life by Riddhi Sen as Hamlet, a prince who is conflicted, who is and Kaushik Sen as Claudius, one of the most manipulative characters of Shakespeare. A man who is a prey of his own over-ambitious nature, a top-notch strategist who has his own agenda in the back of his mind. A man who is soft-faced, noble and a convincing man to the world as a national leader with dark and cold grey shades engulfed in thoughts. It is not that, he doesn’t have a self-retrospection, he is guilty of his deeds yet a victim of his own ambitions. And, none other than Kaushik Sen could do such a complex and cold criminal who is overwhelmed by ambition, kind of role so smartly and effortlessly.

Gertrude – played by Reshmi Sen, a mother is always a mother. The face-off conversation between mother and son was magnificent. The intense act put up by Hamlet and Gertrude left me speechless. At the loss of words, tears trickled as Gertrude weeps for her son when he coerced her and questions her.

Dialogue delivery, space utilisation by every single performer, and the nuances that were brought out were mastered pitch perfectly. In few scenes, it literally gave goosebumps, and we were completely transmuted to the Shakespearean era. Ophelia, played by Surangana Bandopadhyay seemed so real to me. Surangana brought Ophelia to life, as if, the character ever existed, she would look like the one. I just loved the lines sung by her and Hamlet.

The keen and strategic act of. Claudius in the end where influences Laertes and manages to fence the war between Hamlet and the latter was top class. The synchronous dancing act during the fight scenes was one of the best that every audience enjoyed, and it is no exaggeration in saying that it’s a true fight that we saw in reality and no dupes.

There is sometimes magic that takes place and we are part of the magic. creation of magic was happening on the stage the magician is the director who is equally involved and engrossed in the creation. – And the Magician is Kaushik Sen.

To stage a 3 hour long drama in a theatre without looking at any dialogues, playing respective roles flawlessly with such devotion and dedication comes only with an enormous amount of practice, effort, and focus on it. Last but not the least, the setting, the feel and environment that was created, and lighting effects, to bring the actual feel of the drama, costume used was spot on.

Infinite respect, admiration and deservingly a standing ovation for each and every artist who had contributed to making it such a wonderful realistic play. I would say, what we read in books is Shakespearean creation while what will be remembered as a contemporary play with modern improvisation is a “Kaushikean” creation. Absolutely a magnanimous creation that got the audience raise from the seats with a nerve gripping flow of an unstoppable intrigue and taste of violence.

Would love to see such drama’s coming to life on the stage through drama.

Here are few of my most favourite Claudius dialogues from the original version –
“Now must your conscience my acquittance seal,
And You must put me in your heart for friend,
Sith, you have heard, and with a knowing ear,
That he which hath your noble father slain
Pursued my life.”
“Give me some light…….” – If there is a character called Claudius – I bet, the intensity would be as same as Kaushik sir made it look and feel like.

I am left speechless with my collection of treasured moments.

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