(Last Updated on : 10-03-2012)
Dinabandhu Mitra was famous theatre personality from West Bengal
and pioneering Indian dramatist
. He was born in the year 1830 at village Chouberia in Gopalnagar in the district of North 24 Parganas
and was the son of Kalachand Mitra. His given name was Gandharva Narayan, but he changed it to Dinabandhu Mitra. Dinabandhu Mitra was a student of Hindu College, later known as Presidency College
during 1850-5. He left his studies incomplete to join the postal services.
Career in Theatre for Dinabandhu Mitra
He published his first and most famous play, Nildarpan i.e. "Indigo Mirror" in 1860. This was published pseudonymously from Dacca. This unleashed a series of similar Darpan plays in Bengali. Madhusudan Dutt
took it up for translation into English immediately after its publication, at the instance of Rev. James Long who was fined Rs 1000 and subjected to one month's simple imprisonment in 1861 for publishing the translation. This was based on the trials and tribulations of rural cultivators oppressed by colonial indigo planters. It scored another historic milestone when selected for the inaugural night of Bengali public theatre on 7 December 1872. Nabin Tapanvini i.e. "Young Hermitess" in 1863 alias Bijay-Kamini i.e. "Bijay and Kamini" modelled after Shakespeare's Merry Wives of Windsor did not make a mark. Although this is done by the same National Theatre in 1873 and featuring the rise of naturalistic acting in Bengal through Ardhendu Mustafi's performance.
Lilabati was first staged in 1872 and Kamale Kamini i.e. "Lady on a Lotus" in 1873 also had little success, but Mitra's farces set new heights in popularity. Biyepagla bum i.e. "Marriage-mad Old Man" in 1866, Sadhabar Ekadashi i.e. "Wife's Widowhood Fast" in 1866, and Jamai bank i.e. "Barracks of Sons-in-law" in 1872 were all popular. Girish Ghosh's Baghbazar Amateur Theatre had premiered Sadhabar Ekadashi in 1868 and, in 1872. Ghosh's acting in the lead at the National became a cherished moment in history of Bengali theatre
. Although literary critics raise doubts about the dramatic quality of Mitra's plays, their theatre fortunes are undisputed. Even after Independence, leftist groups under the banner of the Indian People's Theatre Association
frequently revived Nildarpan. Thematically, Mitra grasped reality better than his dramatist contemporaries. He comprehended its serious and seamy side as well as its humorous and human dimensions. While Nildarpan portrayed the eco-political exploitation by the colonizers, Sadhabar Ekadashi revealed the degeneration of mid-century English-educated Bengali society.
Dinabandhu Mitra died in the year 1873.