(Last Updated on : 02/04/2012)
Banamali Pati was a proprietor of the professional Oriya theatre company. He was de facto zamindar of Balanga in Puri district
, and a great patron of music and dance like other aristocrats of the age. He maintained his own dancing troupe. Once, while in Puri
to watch a stage show, he was denied access to a seat. At that moment he decided to start his own theatre group. Artists were collected from his locality and he named the troupe as Radhakrishna Theatre. An expert from Kolkata
came to advise Pati. Brindaban Bihari Das, a music and dance teacher from Baleshwar also joined the party. It was formed in 1910 and ready for performance by 1911. A touring unit, it visited Cuttack
in 1914 to play at the Basanti Pandal. It had to depend on translations since plays in Oriya were very few.
By 1915 Aswini Kumar Ghose emerged as a dramatist and in 1918 Pati was introduced to him at a show. Since then, Ghose wrote regularly for Radhakrishna Theatre. Relations between them grew warmer and remained intact till Pati's untimely and sensational death in 1928. An agitated group of his subjects murdered him in broad daylight while the troupe was in Jajpur
. Although he was a patron of the arts, Pati was a terror to his subjects, hence disliked by them.
After his death, at the artists' request, Aswini Kumar Ghose purchased the party from Pati's son-in-law and tried his best to keep it alive, renaming it Banamali Art Theatre, popularly called Art Theatre. Despite the care and efforts of its mentor, Art Theatre was short-lived. Within five or six years germs of decadence crippled it from all sides. Ghose was primarily a dramatist and had little knowledge of theatre management. It was not possible for him to run a professional company successfully. Financial crisis increased by the day. Pati used to make up any losses from the income of the zamindari. Finally the shutters came down on Art Theatre in 1934-5.
Banamali Pati died in 1928.
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