Theatre

Multifaceted Bengali theatre

One of Bengaluru’s oldest theatre groups Enad (Ekti Natoker Dol), co-founded by Amitava Baksy, has tapped the talent of hundreds of amateur theatre practitioners in Bengaluru. For over the last 12 years, the group has staged over 40 shows of 20 to 22 productions.

Amitava, who has kept the flame of his passion for theatre burning bright for all these years , says he has been actively involved in Bengali amateur theatre since the late 80s. “In 1989, when I was studying in St Xavier’s College in Kolkata, we had a vibrant atmosphere of theatre with Kharaj Mukherjee and Sudipto Chatterjee.”

But it was well-known theatre personality Ramaprasad Banik who inspired Amitava. Ramaprasad not only trained Amitava in theatre but handed down a firm philosophy of theatre that has stayed with Amitava to this day and has inspired the vision of Enad. “Ramaprasad never said theatre brings you fame. I also ensured that Enad’s vision is not about staging many productions and being in the limelight but to stage quality plays. We work seven, eight and nine months on a play till we are satisfied that it’s professional. Many people come out of curiosity; we work with every actor and give everyone a chance, but we are serious about our craft.”

Amitava says the thrill in theatre is, “how for two hours of a play you can control the audience by engaging with them, making them laugh and cry along with the performance.”

Amitava had first come to Bengaluru in 1992. “I went to the US in 1998 and also stayed in other Indian cities, such as Chennai. And throughout I did Bengali amateur theatre. In 2006 some old friends got together and said why don’t we do some theatre? So we started Enad.” The first play they did was with 10 to 15 people. But the membership grew by leaps and bounds. “Enad has brought 200 people on stage,” Amitava smiles.

When asked why there is not enough of an audience for theatre, Amitava says the answer to this is in the fact that theatre is no longer inextricably linked to people’s lifestyles. “As a child I grew up watching nukkad theatre which was local theatre that engaged the community as a whole. No big theatre director worked in this space. Also the lack of audiences is due to there being no Bengali plays being staged, hence no audience and as a result no funds.”

But their commitment to theatre and earning the goodwill of fellow Bengalis has made Enad self sufficient. “We work with amateurs only. I want to stay true to this vision. Enad is a space for learning and teaching. We train young actors and theatre artistes.” Enad is not just a theatre group, it has also, over the years, as one post on their Facebook page states, become ‘a home away from home’ for Bengalis who have relocated to Bengaluru.

Amitava is at present working on the Bengali adaptation of Girish Karnad's Taledanda. “I have got permission from him and we will be staging the play next year.”

Two years ago, Enad started a theatre magazine Palette with articles in Bengali and English on different themes.

Enad’s latest play, Chalaman Ashariri, directed by Amitava will be staged on January 14 at 4 pm and 7 pm at ADA Rangamandira, J.C. Road. Tickets available on www.bookmyshow.com. For details visit Facebook page Enad.


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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 1:45:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/multifaceted-bengali-theatre/article22411746.ece

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