Sekhar Chatterjee was born in 1924 in Kolkata; he took a teaching job to sustain his addiction to Bengali theatre. Groomed at the Indian People's Theatre Association which he joined in 1950 but left before long, he proved his worth as an accomplished actor in Utpal Dutt's Little Theatre Group in the Shakespearean roles of Macduff and Iago, and as Shardul Singh in 'Dutt's Kallol, 'Waves' in 1965. He also trained briefly at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop, London, and in 1958 formed his own troupe, Theatre Unit, adapting a series of Western plays for it and for some commercial companies. These included a majority by German authors, including Brecht, Duerrenmatt, Peter Handke, and Franz Kroetz. However, because hosted by the Max Mueller Bhavan in Kolkata, West Bengal- the cultural wing of the German consulate, they hurt his leftist image. Fariyad i.e. 'Complaint' in 1968 and Janmabhumi i.e. 'Motherland' in 1968 were original, but Chatterjee's preference for adaptations hampered his development as a dramatist.
He acquired distinction as a faithful follower of Brechtian epic theatre. His production of Pantu Laha, from 'Herr Puntila' in 1975, in which he acted the lead, served almost as a model. Earlier, he had successfully directed Girish Raghunath Karnad's Tughlaq in 1973. His own play Judge Sahib in 1979 and his farcical adaptation of Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew as Srimati bhayankari' i.e. 'Ms Terror' in 1980 became commercial hits, but the serious and contemplative Chatterjee was somewhat lost in them. Compelled to leave Theatre Unit in 1983, he established Unity Theatre instead. His career in cinema was distinguished, especially under Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal, and Richard Attenborough. He also directed the award-winning film Basundhara i.e. 'The Earth' in Bengali in 1984.
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