BADAL SIRCAR : DR. HARESHWAR ROY
‘And have faith, in the road. The endless road, no shrine for us. No God for us, but the road. The endless road.’ Dramatist Badal Sircar, who died on 13 May at Kolkata, wrote these lines for his play Evam Indrajit. Sircar, a pioneer and a multifaceted cultural personality, is an influential Indian dramatist and theatre director. He is popular for his anti-establishment plays. He prolifically wrote scripts for his Aanganmanch performances. Critics compare him with Vijay Tendulkar, Mohan Rakesh and Girish Karnad.
Badal Sircar was born in Calcutta, India. His real name was Sudhindra Sarkar. He was initially schooled at the Scottish Church Collegiate School. He studied civil engineering and after that he finished his Master of Arts degree in comparative literature from the Jadavpur University in Calcutta.While working as a town planner in India, England and Nigeria, he entered theatre as an actor. Soon he moved to direction and very soon started writing plays.
Badal Sirkar did experiment with theatrical environments such as, stage, costumes and presentation. He established a new generation of theatre called Third Theatre. He created a direct communication with audience and emphasised on expressionist acting along with realism. His Third Theatre is seen as a reaction against British style proscenium stage which was prevalent in Indian cities during colonial rule. Sircar was influenced by Indian folk theatre forms like; Jatra, Tamasha, Bhawai, Nautanki and Kathakali, Chhau and Manipuri dances. He derived very much for his Third Theatre from these folk theatre forms.
He is one of the leading figures in the revival of street theatre in Bengal. He revolutionised Bengali theatre. Sircar’s innovations in the use of public space have had a profound impact on Indian theatre. Badal Sircar influenced a number of film directors, theatre directors as well as writers of his time. Badal’s movements were restricted after a road accident. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in April 2011. He died on 13 May at Kolkata at the age of 85.
For his valuable contribution, Sircar was awarded the Padma Shri, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship- Ratna Sadsya, the highest honour in the performing arts in India. He was offered the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2010. Stating that he is already a Sahitya Akademi Fellow, he refused to accept this award.
The plays of Sircar can be seen as a reaction against this exploitation inflicted by colonialists. His works spoke of peoples' conditions. They express all the major concerns, aspirations and frustrations of the new ruthless urban generation. They deal with the hypocrisy of the daily mundane. They reflect the atrocities that prevailed in the society. The plays of Badal Sircar show the nature of exploitation sustained by native lower class Indians and their reaction and revolt against it.
Sircar has written more than fifty plays. Among them Evam Indrajit, Basi Khabar, Baaki Itihaash, Pralap, Tringsha Shatabdi, Pagla Ghoda, and Shesh Naai etc. are well known literary pieces. They blazed a trail, and opened new vistas. He started his career as a playwright with comedies. Eventually still employed in Nigeria, he wrote Evam Indrajit in 1963. Fortunately he got unexpected fame. While still in Nigeria, Sircar’s Evam Indrajit shows his rebellious beginning. It became a landmark play in Indian theatre. It is a play about three people – Amal, Bimal, Kamal and a loner Indrajit. It captured ‘the loneliness of post-Independence urban youth with dismaying accuracy’. In 1967, he formed the Shatabdi theatre group. The first production he directed was Evam Indrajit.
Badal Sircar was a playwright of great power and technical sophistication. No other theatre personality has had such a deep and pervasive influence on theatre practice and theory in post-independence India as Badal Sircar. His exploration has never been motivated by a desire to experiment for the sake of experiment alone. He has never believed in maxims like ‘art for art’s sake’ or ‘theatre for the sake of theatre’. His influence is inductive.
About the author:
Dr. Hareshwar Roy, Professor of English at Govt. P.G. College, Satna, Madhya Pradesh, obtained his bachelor and master degrees in English from Patna University Patna, Bihar. He completed his Ph.D. from A.P.S. University Rewa, Madhya Pradesh. His ‘The Diasporic Articulation in the Novels of M.G. Vassanji’ is an incisive book that makes an in-depth study of the novels of M.G. Vassanji who is one of the best known literary members of Indian Diaspora. His research papers (more than 40) have been widely published in reputed literary journals. Currently he is teaching English Literature in Govt. Autonomous P.G. College Satna, Madhya Pradesh. He has attended a number of seminars and conferences. His area of interest is the writing of the writers of Indian diaspora.