B adal Sircar was one of the leading and most influential playwrights and directors in modern Indian theatre movement. With the advent of industrialisation leading to modernity, the working class became an essential element of metropolis populace. With rising popularity of Marxist aesthetics, artistes soon started to see themselves as labourers and their work as labour. The conventional notions were broken, including rejection of institutions set up by status quo. New social, economic and cultural relations were approached which moved beyond boundaries set by the State; not only in terms of ideas but also in relation to form. Badal Sircar emerged as a theatre director and writer who tried to emancipate himself and his work by crossing boundaries.

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Print This is someone who never sought the limelight, who turned his back on the mainstream theatre stage, and who spent his last years far from the glitter of media attention; and yet, ironically, Badal Sircar is, to my mind, the single most influential figure in the extensive and diverse field of contemporary Indian theatre.

This may seem like a tall claim, but it is one I am prepared to uphold. Can one think of any other individual in the s, s and s who had a more pervasive impact on theatre thinkers and workers — directors, playwrights, actors — across the Indian subcontinent? From Manipur to Kerala, Kashmir to Tamil Nadu, from Maharashtra to Pakistan and his native Bengal, there is scarcely a corner of theatre activity that has not been influenced by Badal-da one way or another.

Some have been impacted by his workshop practice, others by his ideas of a free, non-proscenium theatre, yet others by his playscripts. This is not to claim a straightforward acceptance of his theory and practice in all instances — but to recognise that alongside critical appraisal there runs a widespread acknowledgement of this influence.

His Ebong Indrajit seemed to capture an existential angst, a quest for meaning, that spoke for an entire generation. However, by the early s he was already moving away from proscenium theatre and the entire economy on which this theatre was premised. His Third Theatre was based on the centrality of the actor, and on the human connection both between actors and between them and the audience.

He wrote several essays on his philosophy of the Third Theatre, and lectured widely on the subject. Badal Sircar travelled across the subcontinent through the s, s and s, holding workshops at different places, including Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The outcome is a wide range of people in India who have been influenced to a greater or lesser extent into adopting the principles of his kind of theatre. His impact on the alternative, activist theatre circuit in neighbouring Pakistan and Bangladesh is also significant.

No other Indian theatre personality has had quite the same effect. Challenging complacency His was theatre as anti-establishment counterculture, challenging normative middle-class mores and complacency, an attempt at conscientisation and awareness-raising, protest and political comment. It drew on the daily reality of the common man, the entire gamut of oppression, corruption, injustice, power politics, struggle, disillusionment, despairing hope, battered idealism, and confused questioning that all of us experience as we grapple with the everyday.

Badal-da used evocative motifs to communicate his ideas — the young man who gets killed over and over again in Michhil; the walking dead man in Basi Khabar. Badal Sircar strove for the ideal of a truly democratic space for theatre— — a non-commercial space where human beings could meet voluntarily as equals.

If they do pay, it is neither a gift nor a price — it is participation, in some way. They are indicating that they liked what they saw, that they want this kind of theatre to go on.

That is a human relationship. To the end he remained curious, interested, open to learning. I remember meeting him in By then his movements were restricted, and he was almost completely confined to his room in his house in north Kolkata. We spoke of several things, but what came through clearly was his deep passion for and commitment to the theatre path he had chosen to walk for the past forty odd years. The legacy Badal-da has passed on, but his legacy lives on. The leading personalities of Indian theatre acknowledge their debt to him.

To veteran actor and director Amol Palekar, Badal-da was a great inspiration for his entire generation. For Manipuri director Heisnam Kanhailal, respected throughout the country for his distinctive dramaturgy, it was a workshop by Badal-da that set him on the path towards his own unique theatre style. A cursory search on the internet will yield some Badal Sircar play being performed somewhere in the country.

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Was Badal Sircar India’s most influential playwright?

Essay The theatre of Badal Sircar A new book looks on a legend of Indian theatre, a man who eventually shunned the stage for the theatre of the street, the best place for the political in his art. Art by Partha ChatterjeeFeb 06, B adal Sudhindra Sircar continues to be an influential figure in Bengali, even Indian, theatre five years after his passing. He had a methodical mind and earned his living as a town planner, though the theatre bug had bitten him in childhood. What began as a pleasurable pastime seeped into his consciousness by the time he took a job with the Damodar Valley Corporation in , after graduating in Civil Engineering from the reputed Bengal Engineering College, Shibpur, Howrah, off Calcutta now Kolkata.


Badal Sarkar

He was initially schooled at the Scottish Church Collegiate School. Career[ edit ] While working as a town planner in India, England and Nigeria, he entered theatre as an actor, moved to direction, but soon started writing plays, starting with comedies. Badal Sirkar did experiments with theatrical environments such as stage, costumes and presentation and established a new genre of theatre called "Third Theatre". He started his acting career in , when he acted in his own play, Bara Trishna, performed by Chakra, a theatre group. Eventually still employed in Nigeria, he wrote his landmark play Ebong Indrajit And Indrajit in , which was first published and performed in and catapulted him into instant fame, as it captured "the loneliness of post-Independence urban youth with dismaying accuracy". In the next five years of its existence the troupe performed several of his plays and had a profound impact on contemporary theatre, especially after when it started performing plays both indoors and outside amidst people, and evolved the angan manch courtyard stage and inspired by the direct communication techniques of Jatra rural theatre form, to eventually become his "Third Theatre", a protest against prevalent commercial theatre establishment. Often performed in "found" spaces rather than rented theatre halls, without elaborate lighting, costumes or make-up, where audience was no longer a passive, rather became participatory, it added a new realism to contemporary dramaturgy , retaining thematic sophistication of social committed theatre all the while, and thus started a new wave of experimental theatre in Indian theatre.


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Badal Sarkar : 5 Plays (published in Nana Mukh)


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