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Badal Sircar

Theatre of Inclusiveness

“Satellites in space and 70 percent of the population under the poverty line. Democracy and police brutality. The stupidity of man, the cruelty of man, the achievements of man, the callousness of man…” – Badal Sircar, 1981

May 13th 2011:
In the hullaballoo that accompanied the end of the 34 year old Communist regime in West Bengal, the demise of Badal Sircar (15 July 1925 –13 May 2011), doyen of Indian theatre, founder of the Third Theatre movement, a man who cared deeply about mankind, went virtually unnoticed.

Badal-da wrote over 50 plays including classics like Ebong Indrajit (And Indrajit), Bashi Khabar (Stale News), Hattamalar Opare (Beyond the Land of Hattamala), Pagla Ghoda (Mad Horse) among others. A recipient of many awards during his lifetime, including the Padma Shri (1972), the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1968) and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (1997), he declined the Padma Bhushan in 2010 stating that he had already received the highest possible honour in India for a writer.

Badal-da began his journey in theatre as a playwright. Many of his early works are masterpieces of the proscenium theatre which had huge influence and impact from the moment they were published. Yet at the height of his success as a playwright Badal-da decided to move away from the floodlights of the stage to establish a new paradigm of theatre – one that would not be bound by the trappings of the proscenium but would go to “wherever the people are – in public parks, slums, factories, villages.”  more...

Radical modernist

BADAL SIRCAR was the complete modernist in Indian theatre, carefully treading through the huge repertoire of devices realism brought to the 20th century stage and emerging on the other side and, at the same time, skirting the seductive richness of a vibrant people's culture, which the urban intelligentsia was gradually discovering. Internationally speaking, the modernist had by then ceased to be the elegant flaneur, a slightly decadent stroller through the angst-ridden cityscape, celebrated by Walter Benjamin in his account of Baudelaire's Paris. After the two World Wars of the 20th century, he turned into a stalker in the 1950s, grimly moving through the aimless scuttle of unheroic creatures, all waiting for a whimpering end.

Sircar discovered this new inflection of modernism in the mature phase of his career, starting with Ebang Indrajit ( And Indrajit, written in 1963 and staged in 1965) and then going on to develop both performance and stagecraft indices that would sustain this discursive sensibility.  more...

Source: Frontline article written by Professor Mihir Bhattacharya