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Soumendu Roy

July 16, 2008

He has worked with Satyajit Ray, as a cinematographer, in various films such as Bala, Aranyer Din Ratri and Shatranj ke Khiladi. He has won the National Award four times for his extraordinary work in Asani Sanket, Sonar Kela, Shatranj Ke Khiladi,Suchitra mitra

You are so passionate about cinema. You have been involved with this medium for so long. What draws you to theatre?

When I was working in Hindi films, there were lot of friends who were stage artists and stage actors. They invited me to watch their shows, so that is how I got interested in theatre. Moreover, there is this person I know, Debjit Bandyopadhyaya, He did his research work and got a Ph.D. degree in Bengali theatre.He told me about Herasim Lebedeff, the Russian who came to India in 1787.He was the first person to stage a play in Kolkata & then staged the first play in 1795 in a theatre especially built for the purpose.

You have seen so much of theatre, especially in Bengal. Have you noticed any changes?

Yes, definitely. I have seen a lot of theatre in my younger days. That time, they used to stage plays for 4 days in a week. They chose mythological or classical subjects or family drama, which attracted audience. Now the perception has changed a lot. Now they are doing theatre on social themes, economic conditions and problems. That is a change I saw. Sombhu Mitra, who would stage Tagore’s plays, and Utpal Dutt, they are all stalwarts. One person who was very famous in Kolkata was Girish Chandra Ghose.He was the pioneer of Bengali stage. And after his era, came another legendary figure in Bengal, Sisir Kumar Bhaduri.He changed the concepts on theatre of Girish Ghose,to a bit modernized ones. And after him came Sombhu Mitra and Utpal Dutt.They have modernized it more. That is the graph of Bengali theatre. But now there are many groups who are experimenting in different ways, in terms of selection of scripts and writing pattern.

What kinds of plays do you like watching?

There is no hard and fast rule as such. But I like plays that have something to say, that will make me think for a day. A play in which the story is told properly, and the acting and lighting is good. Being a technical person, I also see the technical part of the stage.

Theatre and cinema, the two mediums have a lot in common, yet they are very different. What do you think is the basic difference between the two?

I think the main difference is, that theatre is an actor’s medium and cinema is a director’s medium. In theatre, when you are on stage, the director can’t do anything. But in films, if something goes wrong, then you can cut it and retake it. Moreover, in films you can get the proper expression of the actor or the actress through camera. But in theatre, the expression of the actor is much more essential so that the audience, from first bench to last bench, can understand what is going on

Theatre is a powerful medium. In your opinion, what is the best part about theatre?

Where cinema can’t reach, theatre can. There are no cinema halls in rural and remote areas. People in such places can know a lot about what has happened, and what is happening in the society, through theatre.

What message or advice would you like to give for the college students?
Whatever you do, your love for work, dedication and involvement should be there.

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