Remembering the thespian...

Remembering the thespian...

Sombhu Mitra’s birth centenary celebrations showcased some of his masterpieces. Known as the pioneer of contemporary Bengali theatre, thespian Sombhu Mitra’s birth centenary celebrations was ushered in city by revisiting his great works.

To mark the prolific playw­right’s birth centenary, Impr­esario India, in association with Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), India International Centre and the India Habitat Centre organised a festival presenting the immortal works of the iconic theatre artiste.

Jawhar Sircar, chief executive officer of Prasar Bharati inaugurated the festival on Mitra’s birthday i.e., on Augu­st 22. The festival witnessed two plays Rajar Khonje and Atmaghati, which highlighted his great works in the field of theatre.

Impresario India also coordinated with the local theatre groups to present his magn­um opus creation Chand Ba­n­iker Pala, based on Manasa Mangal Kabya. This action-oriented play was directed by professor Santanu Bose and music was given by Kajal Ghosh and Ashish Ghosh.

The versatile genius also made a mark as an actor, pla­ywright and director. Some of his popular films include Dh­a­­rti Ke Lal (1946), Jagte Raho (1956) and plays such as Chand Baniker Pala. He also garnered popularity by staging Raktakarabi, which was adapted from Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s play and Putulkhela, an adaptation of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House.

In 1948, after disassociating from the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), he founded the theatre group Bohurupee with just 15 artis­tes, including theatre vetera­n Bijon Bhattacharya. Mit­r­a’s wife Tripti, another legend of Bengali theatre was also one of the co-founders. The non-commercial drama tro­u­pe churned out experimental Bengali plays that broke away from stereotypes and garne­red a cult following.

Mitra died on May 19, 1997. He was honoured by the Sangeet Natak Akademi with its highest award, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution in 1966. In 1970, he was also awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour, and in 1976 the Ramon Magsaysay Award.