FRIDAY REVIEW

Assam is his stage

Sarat Kumar Mohanty is all all charged up to take Oriya plays to Assam.

Sarat Kumar Mohanty is all all charged up to take Oriya plays to Assam.  

THEATRE RUNS in the veins of Sarat Kumar Mohanty and perhaps that is why he is restless when not involved with histrionics. Before he was transferred in 2001 to Doordarshan Kendra, Guwahati, he was a familiar figure in all theatre activities in Bhubaneswar and was better known as a theatre person than a senior producer of Doordarshan.

As the director of the programme production centre of Prasar Bharati at Guwahati, he is still doing what he does best - theatre. Sometime back, there was a controversy over his directing a play, a satire in Assam. BIBHUTI MISHRA had a freewheeling chat with him to know of his present activities:

What was the reaction over staging of `Srimad Gadha Bhagabat' in Guwahati?

A theatre outfit, Engeet, presented the play, which I was directing. Initially, a retired deputy commissioner of police raised objection to the word `Srimad' through his comments in the newspaper `Amar Assam'.

Then I got a call from Bajrang Dal asking me to drop the play or change the title. I asked them to contact Engeet. Another Sanskrit professor also called me up and objected to it. The title was changed to `Gadha Bhagavat'; even that was not acceptable. Finally it became `Gadha Katha'.

What was the response and was there any problem during the staging?

No, there was no problem during the staging of the play. The response was tremendous and the auditorium was jam-packed. We will be taking this play to different theatre festivals and events.

You presented this adaptation of a Kishen Chander novel in Bhubaneswar in 1997 too. Why do you think it scores every time?

It is a social satire of a donkey decrying the loss of values in today's men and thus is immensely relevant to the present time. So people identify with it. The Assamese translation was by Dr. Dipti Phukan Patgiri and Manoj Nayak and I presented it in `Ojhapali' (similar to `Pala') format.

You have been in Assam for some years. Did you face problems in getting acclimatised?

Actually, it took me some time to get acclimatised with the language and then I was not sure whether I would stay there for long.

But five months back I got appointed as director, PPC (NE), which was when I settled down to do theatre actively.

But before that I had also serialised an Oriya play `Aethi Sethi Sabuthi' in Doordarshan there. Besides, I have produced 30 plays for Doordarshan, one of which won the National Award.

How do you think Oriya plays are being received in Assam?

Very well. In fact, renowned playwright and stage director of Assam, who inaugurated the play, talked about the socio-religio-cultural thread between Orissa and Assam since the days of Sankardeva in the 15th Century.

Assam is culturally vibrant and I am now all charged up to take Oriya plays there and thus strengthen the thread. More and more Oriya plays would be translated and staged there in the future.

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