An Interview with Ashok Mukhopadhyay

Ashoke Mukhopadhyay Ashok Mukhopadhyay, an eminent theatre personality from Kolkata, is visiting the United States to direct a play at the 25th North America Bengali Conference, to be held in New York during July 1 -4, 2005. I asked few questions to Askok-da (as I fondly call him) on how he approached towards developing this play.

Sudipta: NABC 2005 is celebrating 200 years of Bengali theatre through three plays covering the period. You have written the script and directing one of the segments. What part of this vast canvas are you covering in your segment?

Ashok: I have not actually written any script for my part of the production. I have selected scenes from some of the great plays written during the time-span and I am trying to link them with song-and-dance sequences to produce a theatrical collage. I am covering the period 1870 to 1944.

Sudipta: What was your criteria in selecting the play segments

Ashok: I selected scenes from some of the major plays by some of the major playwrights of the time. I wanted them to be various in appeal and approach ranging from the high satire of Buro Saliker Ghare Roa (Modhusudan) to the solemnly tragic note of Balidan (Girishchandra), from the comedic romanticism of Chirakumar Sabha (Rabindranath) to the musical rhythm of Alibaba (Khirodeprasad), and thus to the historicity of Chandragupta (Dwijendralal) to the garbed mythology of Karagar (Manmotho Roy) and finally reaching the agony and protest of Nabanna (1944).

Sudipta: What was your thought process in developing your segment?
Ashok: The basic thought grinding the selection of plays concerns the belief that theater provides the finest documentation of time and its flow. Theater intrinsically projects the truth about social transition, placing human beings and their values against the correct perspective. I hope our production of the play-pieces will provide a commentary on the theater of the time as also on the social milieu producing the theater.

Sudipta: Is this your first visit to North America Bengali Conference? If so, what is your expectation?
Ashok: This is my first visit to North America Bengali Conference. I am looking
forward to a great week-end when Bengali culture will shine proudly in America projecting the multi-dimensional character of this dear and glorious tradition of ours.

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