Mitra, Shambhu

Mitra, Shambhu (1915-1997) theatre personality, was born on 22 August 1915 in Kolkata. He started his theatre career in 1939 at Rangamahal Theatre in Kolkata. Inspired by the leftist movement, he joined in 1943 the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA). In IPTA he got a chance to establish the form of theatre he envisioned. In Navanna, written by bijan bhattacharya, Shambhu Mitra broke old conventions of theatrical presentations. In 1948, Shambhu Mitra established his own theatre group named Bahurupi ,which is regarded as a pioneer of the neo-theatrical movement of Bengal.

Shambhu Mitra propagated a disciplined, intelligent, and vibrant theatre. He had achieved great success with movie directing and acting earlier in life, but left the glittering world of films for the uncertain world of the theatre. Mitra directed successful productions of rabindranath tagore's raktakarabi, Raja and Char Adhyay, tulsi lahiri's Chheda Tar, Henrik Ibsen's Putul Khela (Doll's House) and Dash Chakra (An Enemy of the People), Sophocles' Raja Oedipus (King Oedipus).

He developed a new form of acting and play-production, which was both classical and oriental in characteristics. It is often said that Rabindranath Tagore's play had to wait for Shambhu Mitra to experience true success.

Shambhu Mitra received many national and international awards, including a DLitt from Rabindra Bharati University, the Magsaysay Award, and the Padmabhushan. He was a fellow of Sangeet Natak Academy. For his work in the movies, he won the Grand-Prix Award at the Karlovivari International Film Festival. Shambhu Mitra's wife, Tripti Mitra, was an equally celebrated personality in the Indian theatre world. Their daughter, Shawli Mitra, has also earned fame as an actress, director and playwright. Shambhu Mitra died at the age of 82 on 18 May 1997 in Kolkata. [Ataur Rahman]