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Boost for Nepali drama

Kalimpong, Dec. 27: The long-neglected genre of drama in Nepali literature is expected to receive a fillip, or at least that is what Laxman Srimal believes. Srimal has been awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in Nepali literature for his play Curfew this year.

The award was announced in Delhi yesterday by Sahitya Akademi. Besides Srimal, 22 other writers from different Indian languages have been selected for the award, which carries a cash prize of Rs 50,000 and a plaque.

The author and theatre personality is the first dramatist to win the prestigious award since 1977 when Nepali literature was recognised by the over 50-year-old Sahitya Akademi. Previous winners in Nepali were mostly novelists and poets.

The 63-year-old Srimal, too, had started his career by writing poems and has to his credit a compilation Srimal Ka Kabita Haru (Srimal’s Poems), which was published in 1985.

“I started writing since my school days (Pushpa Rani School in Kurseong) by penning poems,” said the dramatist on phone from Siliguri.

Srimal, however, hoped that the award would do a world of good to the genre of drama. “It has not got its due in our literature. There are many like me who have done wonderful work in this genre. I hope this recognition will spur us all into producing better works in the future,” he added.

The dramatist is also a widely recognised theatre personality, having directed many plays, including his own. “I spent most of my youth on stage. I thoroughly enjoy the experience,” said Srimal, who produces most of the dramas under the banner of the Kurseong-based Sharda Sangeetalaya.

I.B. Rai, the 1977 recipient of the award, said Srimal’s plays analyses Nepali society threadbare. “He looks starkly at the social problems,” Rai said from Siliguri.

Admitting that television has weaned away a sizeable chunk of audience seeking “cheap entertainment”, Srimal, however, is optimistic that theatre would survive the test. “People like Purna Gurung, Nanda Hangkin, Raju Pradhan and Arun Prakash Rai have been producing great works. Their efforts will surely bear fruit.”

Apart from being an author and theatre personality, Srimal is also an educationist, having retired a few years ago as assistant headmaster of Victoria Boys’ School, Kurseong.

“Now, I have immersed myself totally in writing. I have been striving to achieve the proficiency already acquired by other societies in play-writing,” Srimal added.

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