Remembering great theatre director Badal Sarkar on his 93rd birth anniversary.
Badal Sircar (15 July 1925–13 May 2011), also known as Badal Sarkar, was an influential Indian dramatist and theatre director, most known for his anti-establishment plays during the Naxalite movement in the 1970s and taking theatre out of the proscenium and into public arena, when he founded his own theatre company, Shatabdi in 1976. He wrote more than fifty plays of which Ebong Indrajit, Basi Khabar, and Saari Raat are well known literary pieces.
A pioneering figure in street theatre as well as in experimental and contemporary Bengali theatre with his egalitarian “Third Theatre”, he prolifically wrote scripts for his Aanganmanch (courtyard stage) performances and remains one of the most translated Indian playwrights. Though his early comedies were popular, it was his angst-ridden Ebong Indrajit (And Indrajit) that became a landmark play in Indian theatre. Today, his rise as a prominent playwright in 1960s is seen as the coming of age of Modern Indian playwriting in Bengali, just as Vijay Tendulkar did it in Marathi, Mohan Rakesh in Hindi, and Girish Karnad in Kannada.
He was awarded the Padma Shri in 1972, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1968 and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, the highest honor in the performing arts by Govt. of India, in 1997.
Badal Sircar influenced a number of film directors, theatre directors as well as writers of his time.
Film director Mira Nair in an interview mentioned, “For me, Kolkata was a formative city while growing up… I learned to play cricket in Kolkata, but more than anything, I learned to read Badal Sircar and watch plays written by him for street theatre. “
To Kannada director and playwright, Girish Karnad, Sircar’s play Ebong Indrajit taught him fluidity between scenes, while as per theatre director-playwright Satyadev Dubey, “In every play I’ve written and in every situation created, Indrajit dominates.”
To Actor-director Amol Palekar, “Badalda opened up new ways of expression.”
Recently (2013), a newly established cultural group, Maniktala Kolpokatha has started their theatrical career paying homage to the great play writer, staging “Ballavpurer Roopkatha”.
To the group, it is one of the plays that is not often staged in the Kolkata Theatre Circuit and has all the spices of love, laughter, and fear.