Interview - BRATYA BASU - playwright-actor-director's next Bengali move TARA (2011) Prosenjit-Paoli Dam

Bratya Basu | WBRi

CALCUTTA, November 3, 2010 (Washington Bangla Radio) We had announced almost a year ago in this article on WBRi Washington Bangla Radio that acclaimed playwright-actor-director Bratya Basu is directing a Kolkata Bengali Film titled TARA starring PROSENJIT CHATTERJEE, PAOLI DHAM and others. Listen to an audio interview recorded when Bratya was visiting the United States using the player above.

Bratya Basu - you are deeply involved with film, theater, acting and direction. You are here in the United States to attend a conference. Tell us about the conference and your role in it.

I have come to the US on invitation of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Representatives of 21 countries have gathered here. I am representing theater. Attendees include an actor from Croatia, a journalist from Libya, a singer from Columbia, a visual graphics designer from Egypt, a feminist from Morocco - all these people have come together to interact.

That sounds very interesting. What were your thoughts about theater in the conference ?

This conference is in progress - we will visit five cities. I am in Washington today, and we will go to Philadelphia tomorrow - then Seattle, Austin and New York. We have to talk about our specialities in all these five cities. I have talked about my world of theater in Kolkata, West Bengal and India, and am looking forward to talking, listening and learning more about stage plays in the next four cities ... it is surely going to be an enriching experience for me.

Your 1996 play "Oshaleen" has been called post-modern - how would you define "post modern" ?

Ashaleen, written in 1996, was the first play I wrote. I have since written at least twenty more plays. I have been called a post-modern dramatist in Kolkata - but I do not just write plays, I also act in them and direct them. Actually I write plays with the goal of directing them. I do not really concern myself with whether my plays are post-modern or not - that will be decided by the critics - I just do my job of writing plays.

Actually, in our third world, has modernism itself reached its conclusion ? I doubt that it has. And how can post-modernism exist where modernism is still incomplete ? Especially half the world across the Atlantic away, in a place that still has great economic disparity, poverty and illiteracy are rampant, there exists a city-centered paradigm ... a logo-centric tendency to brand something as post-modern much of it have we managed to really assimilate ... I am not sure we have ... I am not an authority on this.

Tell us about your play "17th July" ?

I wrote and directed 17th July in 2004. There were ugly riots in Gujarat in 2002, which caused me to feel a lot of pain. I felt we have to express ourselves using theater as a medium against these horrific riots. Such conflicts based on religion are causing great harm to the third world - it is a destructive force - we are carrying the weight of such tragedy as partitioning of our country on our shoulders - I felt we should express these things via theater. I wrote and directed the play in this context - it was performed in West Bengal and across many places in India. I am glad people appreciated and enthusiastically supported the play. In an environment where communal tensions were high, my play criticizing Hindu fundamentalists was very relevant.

You are involved with Cinema as well as Stage Plays ... which one did you do first ?

I started with theater, then film.

Tell us about your movies.

RAASTA (2003) Bengali MovieTEESTA Bengali MovieI have made two films - the first named Raasta (BUY DVD) which is a mainstream Bengali movie starring Mithun Chakraborty and Raghuvir Yadav from Bombay, with Amitava, Dolon Roy, Rimjhim Gupta. This was my first film - kind of middle-of-the-road. I have made another film TEESTA (BUY DVD) starring Debasree Roy, Chandrayee Ghosh, Badshah Maitra and Sreela Majumdar - you can this is a film about relationships, the relationship between a woman and a man, and about miscommunication. The first and second films are of completely different genres, the first was commercial, and though I do not believe in categorizing movies in this way - you can say the second film is different.

Which movie was bigger in terms of revenue ?

Definitely the first was, because it was made with the box office in mind.

Which play are you working on at this time ?

Currently there are three plays of mine being performed in Kolkata. One of them is Rabindranath Tagore's Chaturanga which I have dramarized and adapted for the theater. The other two are plays written by me - one titled Krishna Gahwar and the other Page 4. I have directed these three. In addition, two more plays written by me - Winkle Twinkle and Agun Mukho - are being performed by other theater groups.

Which is your own favorite among the plays you have written / directed ?

My latest play - Krishna Gahwar.

- Interview by , VOA Washington Bangla Radio

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