Early Life of Shyamanand Jalan
Shyamanand Jalan was born to a Kolkata-based Marwari family of Ishwari Prasad Jalan, in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. His father was a solicitor by profession and later turned to politics. Jalan studied law at Scottish Church College, Kolkata under University of Calcutta, and was a part of the Burrabazar Students' Congress
Career of Shyamanand Jalan
He began acting when he was a schoolboy and took up law as a profession. His first directorial venture came with Ek thi rajkumari or 'Once There Was a Princess' in 1953. This was a children's play written originally in Bengali by Tarun Roy, under whom Jalan gained experience. He worked as secretary for Roy's Theatre Centre before joining others in 1955 to set up Anamika, which revived serious Hindi theatre in Kolkata. He discovered Mohan Rakesh, staging Ashadh ka ek din i.e. "One Day in Ashadha" in 1960, and later directing the same author's Lahron ke raj bans i.e. "Swans of the Waves" in 1967 and Adhe-adhure in 1970. He placed Chhapte chhapte i.e. "Going to Print" in 1963, from Stop Press by Rumanian author Mihail Sebastian in arena format, and stylized Gyandev Agnihotri's Shuturmurg i.e. 'Ostrich' in 1967 and Vijay Tendulkar's Panchhi aise ate hain i.e. 'That's How Birds Come' in 1971, from Ashipakhareyeti. His productions of Badal Sircar's Evam Indrajit in 1968 and Paghtghoda i.e. 'Mad Horse' in 1971 in Hindi beautifully combined reality with imagination, helping to establish Sircar nationally. He handled Tendulkar's harsh realism equally well on Gidhade i.e. 'The Vultures' in 1973 and Kanyadan in 1987. Kalidasa's Sakuntala in 1980 in lyrical dance movements contrasted with G. P. Deshpande's political Uddhwasta dharmashala i.e. 'A Man in Dark Times' in 1982. The inclination to see each play in a new way gave freshness to his work. Shyamanand Jalan rarely repeated himself.
As a director, Jalan gives importance to the text and respects the dramatist. He tries to absorb the inner meaning at a deeper level, and plans production details in a limited way, allowing them to develop during rehearsals. If the writer is available, he holds long discussions to understand the authorial point of view. For Lahron ke rajhans, Rakesh came to Kolkata for three weeks, watched the rehearsals, talked to Jalan, and rewrote the third act. This collaboration to take the script and production to completion became an important creative event in Indian theatre. Jalan had regular consultations with Sircar while working on Evam Indrajit, thus establishing in practice the latter's opinion that his play had neither a happy nor a sorrowful ending. Shyamanand Jalan demonstrated his versatility as an actor with tremendous power and thought-provoking sensitivity. He was brilliant in the varied roles of Kunwar Mahendra Pratap in Vinod Rastogi's Naye hath i.e. "New Hands" in 1957, the doctor mjanta ka shatru i.e. Ibsen's Enemy of the People, in 1959, Kalidasa in Ashadh ka ek din, Sir Mehra in Chhapte chhapte, the king in Shuturmurg, and the writer in Evam Indrajit. He continued to impress at an older age as the professor protagonist of Uddhiuasta dharmashala and the father in Kanyadan. His easy acting style and personality were more suited to modern social drama. Jalan was not as successful in the parts of historical characters.
Recognition for Shyamanand Jalan
Shyamanand Jalan was a founder member of the group Anamika, The impresario outfits Anamika Kala Sangam, and the theatre and dance institution Padatik. All of them were situated in Kolkata. Jalan headed Padatik as artistic director for many years. The first theatre festival organized by an independent group rather than the government in Anamika in 1964 was very successful. The name of the festival was the Chhaufestival under the banner of Anamika Kala Sangam in 1968. The Asian festival of theatre, dance, and martial arts under the aegis of Padatik in 1987 proved his wide range of visualization and execution of events. He became Vice-Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1999.
Later Life of Shyamanand Jalan
Jalan translated plays by Ibsen and Brecht, as well as gave the final form to important dramatizations of Bengali literature and novels in Gharaur bahar i.e. 'Home and Outside' in 1961. he has also done some Rabindranath Tagore's work such as 'Ghare-baire' and Hazar chaurasi ki ma i.e. 'Mother of 1084' in 1978. This was done from Mahasweta Devi's Hajar churashir ma. Shyamanand Jalan won an award as the villainous industrialist in Utpalendu Chakraborty's Bengali film Chokh i.e. 'Eyes' in 1982, and acted in television serials directed by Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, and Amal Allana as well.
Shyamanand Jalan was an Icon of Indian Theatre. He was a bridge between Hindi and Bangla theatre. He was a great man with innovative ideas. He passed away on 24th. May 2010.
Productions of Shyamanand Jalan
* Ek Thi Rajkumari (1953)
* Konark (1954)
* Chandragupta (1955)
* Naye hath (New Hands) (1957)
* Janta ka Shatru (An Enemy of the People) (1959)
* Ashadh Ka Ek Din (One Day in Ashad) (1960)
* Ghare Baire (Home and Outside) (1961)
* Chhapte chhapte (Going to Print) (1963)
* Lehron Ke Rajhans (Swans of the Waves) (1966)
* Shuturmurg (Ostrich) (1967)
* Evam Indrajit (One more Indrajit) (1968)
* Adhe Adhure (Halfway House) (1970)
* Pagla Ghora (Mad Horse) (1971)
* Tughlaq (1972)
* Gidhade (The Vultures) (1973)
* Hazar Chaurasi Ki Ma (Mother of 1084) (1978)
* Sakharam Binder (1979)
* Sakuntala (1980)
* Panchi Aise Aate Hain (Thus Arrive the Birds) (1981)
* Uddhwasta Dharmashala (A Man in Dark Times) (1982)
* Kanyadan (1987)
* Ramkatha Ram-Kahani (1995)
* Madhavi (2006)
* Lehron Ke Rajhans - (2009)