Deeply shocked by the attack on the teacher: Ramendu Majumdar

Ramendu Majumdar is one of the pioneers of the theater movement in Bangladesh. He is one of the founders of the Théâtre troupe, formed in 1972. After almost 20 years, he is directing a new play. The first screening of this new piece will take place today Friday at the Shilpakala Academy.

The Ekushey Padak winner spoke to the Daily Star about a variety of topics, including his latest play, accomplishments, goals, and thoughts on the current state of society.

You are taking over the direction of a play after almost two years. How do you feel about this?

It’s true, I last directed the play “Madhobi” in 2003. Now, in 2022, I came back to direct “Pohela Shorbori”. I’ve spent most of my life working in theater in some way, both onstage and offstage. The new play belongs to our troupe, Theatre. We had started rehearsals for the show before the pandemic, but today it will finally be performed on stage in front of an audience. I’m lucky to have Tropa Majumdar as co-director, and we can say that Tropa did 90% of the work on this piece. I am also grateful that such importance has been given to my vision of “Pohela Shorbori”.

I was excited after reading the main story of “Pohela Shorbori” and that’s when I shared it with the rest of the team. Anshuman Bhowmik then translated the original story.

What is the main reason you chose to have two actors for each character in this play?

This is the first time in the history of our theater that this has happened. Two actors played the role of a character in a play. Because we did this, our team had to work much harder and longer. However, the advantage of doing this is that more actors have had the opportunity to perform. At the same time, it means that even if an actor is absent or sick, the show can go on. This is a particularly important advantage in my opinion.

What is the main plot of “Pohela Shorbori”?

The main story of this piece revolves around the idea that we don’t value a woman’s wants and desires. Even today, we are still indifferent to what women want. The role of women is predominant in the play. If the public thinks about this problem for even a minute after our play, then our work will be worth it.

The audience is the cornerstone of theatre. If audiences keep coming back for theatrical performances, that will be an indication of our success. Every time the audience returns to the stage, drama is encouraged, resulting in even more drama.

How far has theater in Bangladesh come in the past 50 years?

First and foremost, theater as an entertainment medium has come a long way. In some cases, viewership has increased, while in others it has decreased. However, the reality has changed and I feel that now the public wants new plays on stage. And we must live up to their expectations. If we are really able to respond to the demands of the public and give them what they want, then the theater can go far.

What level of interest do young people have in working in theatre?

Most young people want to work in television. Even if you spend time working in theater productions, many people want to eventually make it to TV or movies. Everyone wants to grow fast. However, art should not be a place of rapid growth.

There are others who want to learn and who are very responsible. I would say that young people need to be more passionate about theatre. Because I strongly believe that the younger generation will drive theater forward. Even in our case, Tropa did the lion’s share of the work on “Pohela Shorbori,” and that’s why I believe young people are the future.

What is your lifelong dream for the theatre?

I would have liked to make room for a theater school. So maybe I could also create a theater studio. I don’t know if it will happen, but I still have hope. This is my last and only theater dream.

There is a lot of societal unrest at the moment. Teachers are beaten to death, assaulted with a garland of shoes. How shocked are you by these events?

These incidents deeply shocked me. The incident where the teacher was assaulted with a shoe garland is deeply shocking. How is it possible? What kind of cruel society do we live in? There should be an appropriate punishment for these heinous acts. Without punishment, these things may continue to happen.

The teaching community needs to be more vocal on this issue. Our political parties should have played a bigger role here. As cultural activists, we protested these incidents, but I think people from all walks of life should come out to protest such incidents.

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