Written by: Sangram Guha
Directed by: Samudra Guha
Music: Kankan Bhattacharjee
Set: Hiran Mitra
Light: Sangram Guha
Costume Design: Sampa Sen
Sound: Anup Dhar
Make up: Md. Ali
First show on : July 5, 2004 at Rabindra Sadan, Kolkata
Shows till date: 119 till May,2010 including PAKISTAN.
This play based on the real life trial of the American
soldiers accused of torturing the Prisoners of War in the Abu Ghraib jail in
Iraq during U.S. invasion on Iraq. Although the names of the characters are
fictitious but the event bears similarity with the real incidents. As this play
is based on the reports published in different newspapers and periodicals e.g.
The Daily Mirror, The Guardian, The New Yorker, website of Al Jazeera TV, etc.
Synopsis of the Play
The main character of this play is Lt. Col. Mathan Sarsman, the prime accused
for the torture. His colleague, Cell Commander
Luke Harding has also being tried along with Lt. Col. Mathan Sarsman in the play.
The other major characters are Mr. Nicholas Tarse, the lawyer representing the
Human Rights Commission, Madam Amal Swadi, the lawyer representing the tortured
Iraqi prisoners, Mr. Megan Davis, the defense lawyer of US National Guard, Sajida
Makhmal, an Iraqi woman tortured brutally in Abu Ghraib prison and Al Sameera,
a key witness in this case.
|Director Samudra Guha as Nicholas Tarse
The place of the trial conducted by U.N.O. is an Army camp in Iraq. In this play
Lt. Col. Mathan Sarsman is being tried of brutal physical torturing as well as
raping and killing the prisoners in Abu Ghraib jail. The indomitable spirit and
courage of Sajida Makhmal, an ordinary Iraqi woman and one of the tortured prisoners
in the Abu Ghraib prison helped the court to establish the charges raised against
Mathan Sarsman in the court.
As soon as the curtain rises, it shows that two American sentries Girman and Mackenzy
are on the stage. From a distant place the sound of "Aajan" flows in
to the room. Suddenly Mackenzy jumps up from the chair where he was sleeping and
starts abusing and firing in the direction from where the sound comes. Girman
resists him and asks him to cool down. An agitated Mackenzy, shows all his hatred
against Iraqis with a volley of abuses. From their conversation it appears that
Girman does not hold the same opinion and is much more humane who does not support
this kind of invasion from his heart.
Sumita Mukhopadhyay, Subhabrata Choudhury, Sangram Guha, Sampa Sen and Samudra Guha.
Suddenly an instruction comes over through the wireless that the trial has been
rescheduled and will begin an hour before. Hearing the instruction, both of them
start preparing the place for the trial.
After a few moment, Jim Hoax, the record keeper, enters the room followed by Lt.
Col. Mathan Sarsman, Cell Commander Harding, Nicholas Tarse, Amal Swadi, Megan
Davis and Mr. Fredrich the Judge from U.N.O.
After Jim Hoax reads out the charges against Sarsman, Amal Swadi starts pleading
on behalf of the tortured victims. She points out that Sarsman has a past record
of torturing the prisoners in Honduras. The lawyer from the Human Rights Commission,
Nicholas Tarse, tries to establish the charges raised against Sarsman through
various arguments. Davis, the defense lawyer, tries to counter them stating that
this court does not have the required power to decide on many of the critical
|Sampa Sen and Sangram Guha
Tarse, then calls up on his first witness, Al Sameera, an Iraqi photographer and
the owner of the studio where Sarsman used to print the photographs of his brutal
behaviour on the
prisoners. Cell Commander Luke Harding took these photographs through his handycam.
When enquired, Sarsman states that they had to take the photographs to keep proof
of their interrogation.
|Ashim Roy Choudhury, Sumita Mukhopadhyay and Samudra Guha.
Sameera points out, when charged by Davis that he has sold the photographs against
a large sum of money, that in one of the photographs two children can be seen
hiding. They were his nephews whose parents were killed by U.S. Army. Meheran,
the elder one has lost his eyesight due to U.S. Army's attack. Faiyaaz, the younger
one, no longer loves to do what the other children of his age do and pines for
his mother. He also wants to take revenge of his mother's death.
Al Sameera also points out that he was desperately searching for his ladylove,
Sajida Makhmal, who was abducted by U.S, Army and was taken to the Abu Ghraib
jail. But he came to know that she was raped and killed by Sarsman in the jail.
He has tried to find out the corpse of Sajida but his attempts proved futile.
Tarse alleges that there is a secret group inside the U.S. Army called Project
for New American Century (PNAC) whose
activity is similar to what S.S. was to
the Nazis and which is the mastermind behind these activities and Sarsman is a
member of this group.
|Abhigyan Guha and Soumik Saha.
They are experimenting the reactions of human bodies at different stages of torture
from the blood samples taken from the
prisoners while being tortured. It has also
come to know that Sajida was brutally tortured raped, and when found she was still
unnerved, Sarsman ordered to cut her tongue which was executed by Harding. Sarsman
also says that Sajida died of heart attack right after that.
But Tarse, plays her trump card by saying Sajida is not dead and brings her in
as the final witness. Sajida declares that she was not at all scared when being
tortured and Sarsman had written down something on her back with his burning cigar.
Although initially Sarsman and Davis try to prove that the woman in question is
no the original Sajida as because a person can not speak when her tongue is cut
off. But when Sajida's back is uncovered, nervous Sarsman admits that he has written
"Fuck Iraq" on her back and his action proves that it is the original
Sajida who was tortured by Sarsman.
Tarse then unearth the mystery behind the survival of Sajida. He says that Sajida
was freed from the jail by Cell Commander Luke Harding. Harding emotionally admits
that he did not execute the final order from Sarsman as he considers himself to
be a true soldier and not a sadist. Suddenly a chaos breaks up and the guards
take control of the situation.
Finally the court finds Sarsman guilty and orders to suspend him from the army.
But it makes a mockery of the punishment as Sarsman becomes entitled to various
facilities like huge pension for life, free air ticket to travel and a mansion
|Sampa Sen as Sajida Makhmal.
NB:Cast arranged in alphabetical order of names.
· Abhigyan Guha
· Ashim Raychowdhury
· Ashok Bandyopadhyay
· Diganta Banerjee
· Koushik Ghosh
· Partha Protim Nag
· Sampa Sen
· Samudra Guha
· Sangram Guha
· Subhabrata Chanda Choudhury
- Frontline: 9/10/2004 :Iraq on stage
- International Herald Tribune: 9/10/2004 :Another'9/11' - Indian Theatre exposed Bush
- Daily Mail Pakistan: 11/13/2006 :New theatre from Calcutta, India ignites the passion
- DAWN Pakistan: 11/23/2006 :Operation Flush, the drama at is best
- Daily Times, Pakistan: 11/14/2006 :A night to remember at the World Performing Arts Festival:Of Abu Ghraib, gypsies and robotic Puppets
- The Indian Express: 11/27/2006 :Musharraf recognises Kolkata theatre group as cultural ambassador
- Anandabazar Patrika: 7/5/2004 :"Sangram"
- Anandabazar Patrika: 8/28/2004 :Mind blowing two one-act
- Sananda: 12/30/2004 :Heart Touching Production
- The Indian Express: 5/27/2005 :Operation Flush ignites Abu Ghraib memories