Friday, 16 October 2015

"Karubasona is My Artistic Reincarnation": Arpita

Arpita Ghosh is one of the prominent theatre personalities of modern Bengali stage. She talks about her journey in the thespian world with Aitrayee Sarkar.

On beginning of the beginning

Arpita: It’s very hard for me to describe what actually brought me here. I was born in a small semi village-town away from Kolkata. It’s better to say that I was a simple rural girl. As a child I never watched theatre. But I was very fond of jatra. During durga puja every year I used to accompany my father to overnight jatra shows. I guess I was somewhat addicted to it. I still remember watching a jatras like, Pherari Fauj, by Utpal Dutta there. 

Another addiction was broadcast drama. I was so attached to it that even the day before my board examination none could stop me to listen to the radio. Listening to broadcast drama every weekend was a real fun to me.

Arpita with a never give up smile 

On interest about stage/plays 

Arpita: I never thought that I would be a theatre person. Initially, I was sportsman. I had played almost all the available games, except a few rare ones like golf, lawn tennis etc. However, cricket was my first preference.
Then I came to Kolkata and took admission in the Scottish Church College. There I got the chance to watch the first stage theatre of my life—Nathabati Anathbat. I was in class 12 then. I was mesmerized and watched it over and over again. Later, I had to leave Kolkata for job and returned around 1990-91. That was the time when I became a regular theatre audience. Around 1998 one of my friends approached me for acting in a theatre group, called Fourth Wall. I readily accepted the proposal. Fourth Wall was a small group and we all were friends there. Many of the Fourth Wall members later became very famous. I did a full-length and a short play there.

On joining Panchamvaidic 

Arpita: I joined the Panchamvaidic (Veda) Charyasharm in 2000. I was supposed to return to Fourth Wall after completing a one-year course there. But by then Fourth Wall was at the verge of fall as the members had not much time to devote for the group. So, I decided to stay back in Panchamvaidic. Nothing was planned. My entrance to the world of theatre seemed destined.

On journey with Shaoli Mitra 

Arpita: Shaolidi taught me every aspect of theatre, beginning from script editing to scene composition. She introduced me to the roots of theatre and shaped up my perspective towards stage. We, the students of Panchamvaidic (Veda) Charyasharm, were highly inspired by her. Suddenly, I realized that I have found the work that I wanted to do throughout my life. And it was theatre. 

Shaoli Mitra in
Nathabati Anathbat

On directorial debut

Arpita: I did my first venture with children in 2003. I requested Shaolidi to read the script beforehand and went about it only after she told me “go ahead”. I worked with kids in three consecutive plays. Then I approached ‘Poshu Khamar’. After translating George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ in Bengali I showed it to Shaolidi and requested her to direct it. But she told me that I should direct it instead of her as the project was my brain child.
I still remember that Shaolidi used to come to rehearsals whenever I requested her. She gave some valuable inputs. In fact, a large portion of Poshu Khamar’s music was conceptualized by didi. She was extremely humble and cooperating in her approach. It took me four months to prepare the production.

On directing actor Shaoli Mitra

Arpita: That was a thrilling experience. I requested didi to do a very small role in Poshu Khamar and she agreed. It was a real honour for me. I was one of the very few fortunate individuals who got the chance to direct their guru.
Now, I can realize that Shaolidi had gradually made me grow up as a director and actor. She was leaving the thread very slowly and thus, transforming me in to an independent personality on the stage.

On experience of doing Tagore plays 

Arpita: When I first showed a small draft of Ghare Baire to Shaolidi she advised me to read the novel once again. I just followed her direction. After a few days I approached her with two more scenes and she rejected those once again. I started it all over again and Shaolidi looked quite happy with the third draft. I wrote nine scenes quickly and sought her suggestion. I got a positive reaction from her finally. She loved it. In fact, Ghare Baire was the production where didi started to leave her own position for me. She in her own dignified way left her chair for the next generation. It’s a very rare sight. 

Ghare Baire 
On transition from political plays to Tagore

Arpita: To me both Ghare Baire and Achalayatan are political play. Personally, I love to do political drama. My earlier projects like Narokiyo, Poshu Khamar and Tokolosh all had direct political elements. Then I did Aparajita in 2009 as a warm up session for Ghare Baire. To me Ghare Baire was a political text too. Unlike Satyajit Ray I put politics in the first layer and love in second in it. I tried something different in Ebong Debjani but realized that the Mahabharata was not my cup of tea.
I did Achalayantan, a highly political play, in 2012. Or better to say, I interpreted it politically. Then came to the most political work of my life Astamita Modhanyo. All the productions, including the Tagore’s, I did so far have direct political dialectics. But my actual turnaround is Karubasona. 

On selecting Karubasona 

Arpita: Karubasona has actually brought me to the world of artists and their inner-pain. The plan of doing Karubasona is not new to me. I was contemplating that for some time now. In fact, I had no option left but doing it as the artist within me wanted to do that badly. You can call it a way of self-expression. Karubasona has actually reincarnated the artist within me. 

On incorporating Joy Goswami as a character in Karubasona

Arpita: Joyda was always there in my mind since the very beginning. Karubasona speaks out a poet’s thoughts. So, he was an automatic choice. I used excerpts of three poets in it—Jibonananda Das, Shakti Chattopadhyay and Joy Goswami. Here, chronological selection is also important because I strongly believe that Joyda carries the legacy left by Jibonananda and Shakti. In fact, I could have requested Shakti Chattopadhyay to be a part of the play also if he is alive. It’s a pure poetic rendition. 

In fact, I didn’t care whether the play would work commercially. Many discouraged me to do Karubasona but told them that I need to do this for myself.

On combination with Joy Goswami and Debesh Chattopadhyay

Arpita: Debesh and my combination has worked once again. We worked together in Hai Badan earlier. We always complemented each other. Not only me and him every person involved with Karubasona has done a wonderful job.  

Joyday is a keen learner. He always inquired about every small detail. When his turn was over he used to observe activities of others and learn constantly from that.

On managing time for theatre

Arpita: Theatre is first priority. I can’t live without it. Whatever I do wherever I go theatre never leaves me. Everything comes after that. 

On future projects

Arpita: I would like to do something on Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin or Michelangelo. I can also go for a Nandolal Bose. I mean I don’t know. Actually, Karubasona has opened a new horizon before me and now I am eager to explore that.

The interviewer is an editor of WebPressClub

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