Compunction: A new thriller on the Indian stage

Well-known theatre director Kaushik Bose's new production is a twisty dark thriller that explores the human psyche of guilt or lack of it.

Written by Hemani Bhandari | New Delhi | Updated: December 2, 2015 2:10 pm
Still from the play 'Compunction'/ Theatreworms Production Still from the play ‘Compunction’/ Theatreworms Production

Around the late 1960s there was a series of gruelling murders. Seven girls, all drugged and raped. They were given a window of opportunity to feel the pain, hate, and remorse. Compunction — or is it the lack of it, that forms the underlying theme of well-known theatre director Kaushik Bose’s new production.

Bose’s Theatreworms Production is all set to raise the curtain on its newest play ‘Compunction’, a thriller on stage, which he says is acutely dark and will keep the audience hooked to it till the last minute. It will be performed at LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg on November 28 and 29.

Written and directed by Bose, a psychological thriller — experimented rarely on the Indian theatre scene — this play explores the human psyche of guilt, or lack of it. It takes one on a journey of a few forgotten cases of gruesome murders that renowned psychologist Deepa Thomas stumbles upon while treating one of her patients, Omar. Simultaneously, she is dealing with a troubled marriage, strained relation with her daughter and running against time to solve the cases. Amid all the chaos, she puts the life of her near ones in danger. As the story unfolds, “the truth revealed is shadowy and secrets are devastating”, he said.

Bose’s last production ‘Flesh’, based on Devdutt Pattanaik’s ‘The Pregnant King’, was a commentary on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues plaguing the country in contemporary times by tracing it back to Hindu mythology, but with ‘Compunction’, he enters unchartered waters. “After ‘Flesh’ I wanted to do something new because it was emotionally draining and the new production had to evoke a different emotion. At the very moment, I thought of doing of a thriller,” said Bose.

The 44-year-old director feels that one gets to see a lot of comedy, satire, social drama on stage but not many original thrillers, which was one of the reasons he took on the challenge. “In India, I don’t see thrillers really happening on stage for essentially two reasons, we don’t have a good script and we don’t have the technical expertise that a broadway production would have,” he said. Thriller plays in the country are mostly crime-centric with a whodunnit concept, where one waits till the end for the big reveal, believes Bose, which is why with ‘Compunction’, he’s tried to venture into the “mind game” space.

Dealing with the challenge of creating the mystery needed in a thriller, the National award-winning director says the play doesn’t use much of effects and sound to “forcefully” create that environment. “There are effects on stage but they are certainly not employed to purposely scare the audience. They remain in the backdrop. What the play does is create fear in the mind, where the audience will want to know what happens next. There are characters who will draw you in with the story. It’s the story that’s gripping and takes the lead creating the thrill,” he added. But the bigger challenge for him to was to give audience the clues for the final act yet keep ahead of them.

‘Compunction’ is inspired by journalist Amrita Tripathi’s ‘The Sibius Knot’, and the idea germinated from one of the chapters of her book. While thinking about creating a thriller, he was reading the book and the story developed thereon.

After a preview of the play, Bose said, “One of my friends called it the darkest play he had ever seen and the other remarked that he could just never guess what was coming next… People will either love it or hate it.”

‘Compunction’ will be performed at LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi, on November 28 (7 pm) and November 29 (4 pm and 7 pm).

Watch the trailer here:

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