(Last Updated on : 15/03/2012)
Bijon Bhattacharya was born in the year 1915. He grew up amidst rural surroundings in Faridpur district, East Bengal, and came to know well the people inhabiting the area. This acquaintance forged in him a lasting empathetic bond with the impoverished peasants, artisans, and folk musicians of Bengal. On migrating to Kolkata
in 1930, he joined the Communist Party of India
in 1943 and became a founder member of the Indian People's Theatre Association
, IPTA. In 1944 he wrote his first full-length play, Nabanna i.e. 'New Harvest' on the sufferings of the starving peasantry in the wake of the infamous Bengal famine of 1943
. Directed jointly by him and Sombhu Mitra
, it premiered in Kolkata to wide acclaim the same year. It was subsequently performed at different places on makeshift stages before large crowds, blazing the trail of a new committed theatre featuring documentary realism.
However, Bhattacharya left IPTA in 1948 and formed the Calcutta Theatre after a couple of years. For Calcutta theatre he wrote, directed, and acted over the next two decades. The plays secured his reputation as a dramatist. He composed fifteen full-length works and many one-acts, as well as fiction. Most are concerned with the travails and struggles of Bengal's rural and tribal people. In them he shows a weird understanding of the ways of life, modes of speech, mindset, and perceptions of his characters. While not giving up his Marxist beliefs, he rarely allowed dogma to intrude in his plays.
He discarded accepted notions of dramatic structure and used dialects, myths, and customs from the actual locales. Conviction and a feel for language give his drama a unique quality as well. His outstanding plays include Mara Chand i.e. "Dead Moon" in 1951, Gotrantar i.e. 'Change of Lineage' in 1959, Debi garjan i.e. 'The Goddess Shouts' in 1966, and Garbhabatijanani i.e. 'Pregnant Mother' in 1969. Bijon Bhattacharya was an able actor with credits as older paternal characters in films by Ritwik Ghatak
in Meghe dhaka tara or Cloud-capped Star in 1960, Subarnarekha in 1962 and Jukti takko ar gappo or 'Reason, Debate and a Story' in 1974. He also worked with Mrinal Sen
in Padatik or Guerrilla Fighter in 1973. Bijon Bhattacharya also scripted many screenplays.