Veteran theatre personality Shyamanand Jalan has left behind a huge legacy.
A life engaged in the unflinching service of performing arts, primarily theatre and dance, came to a close last Monday at a nursing home in Kolkata. Shyamanand Jalan, his name and work stand tall on the horizon of modern Indian theatre.
Whether it was resurrecting Hindi theatre in Kolkata through his theatre group Anamika or experimenting and rediscovering famous plays in his own style, he did everything with panache.
He also acted in a few films “Arohan” directed by Shyam Benegal, “Kahan Kahan Se Guzar Gaya” by M.S. Sathyu and “City of Joy” by Ronald Joffe.
Jalan and his wife Chetna also founded Padatik, a platform to support theatre and dance. Theatre artistes from across the country fondly recall the thespian.
(A condolence meeting will be held at B-32 G.K.-I, New Delhi between 4.30 and 6 p.m. on June 5.)
“He was a real rasik, ever ready to stand for the cause of arts. I remember when Ashish Vidyarthi wanted to have a show of “Dayashankar Ki Diary” in Kolkata as a tribute to his father, Shyamanand ji went all out to help him. He was one of the pioneers of modern Indian theatre and he took a big risk by taking Hindi theatre to Kolkata.”
Nadira Babbar, Director, Ekjute
“He was above Bengali and Hindi theatre. He was a national figure. He brought Mohan Rakesh to Kolkata to watch the rehearsals of his play “Lahron Ke Rajhans” (written by Rakesh) and actor Kulbhushan Kharbanda to do “Sakharam Binder”. I grew up watching his performances, festivals and plays. By doing Badal Sircar's “Paagla Ghoda” and “Evam Indrajit” in Hindi, he brought Hindi and Bengali theatre closer. He engaged stalwarts like Khaled Choudhary to do its sets and design and Tapas Sen for lighting.”
Usha Ganguli, Artistic Director, Rangkarmee, Kolkata
The real ‘addabaaz'!
“He was the frontline actor and director in the renaissance period of Hindi theatre from the '60s to '80s. He gave us interesting interpretations of the plays written by Badal Sircar, Vijay Tendulkar, Girish Karnad. He had the beautiful quality to attract everyone towards him. He was a real addabaaz. In 1978, there was a theatre festival and a lot of troupes had reached Kolkata to participate but were stranded at various locations due to the major flood that year. He galvanised the whole thing overnight, had the theatre groups fetched somehow.”
M.K. Raina, actor and Director, Prayog, Delhi
Bridging the gap
“He along with the likes of Mohan Rakesh, Badal Sircar, Vijay Tendulkar and others laid the foundation of modern Indian theatre. Through Anamika, he not only revived Hindi theatre in Kolkata but bridged a gap between North India and West Bengal. I was surprised when he directed Mahashweta Devi's “Hazar Chaurashir Ma” because I thought how could a lawyer direct something like this, but then there were two different sides to him. He understood the pain of others. His plays resonated with romance and poetry.”
Bansi Kaul, designer, Director, Rang Vidushak, Bhopal
Man of the moment
“I was shocked to learn about his demise and rushed to Kolkata the next day. Modern Indian theatre is created by a very few people, and Shyamanand Jalan was one of them. He could see the technique of the production from his angle. He was a skilful director and had the capability to train actors.”
Ratan Thiyam, Vice-Chairman, SNA and Director, Chorus Repertory Theatre, Imphal