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Bratya & Arpita group gets CMC theatre hall

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) on Monday signed a deal with Natya Sajan, a theatre group whose members include minister Bratya Basu and Trinamul MP Arpita Ghosh, allowing it to use Mohit Moitra Mancha at Paikpara near Tallah.

Mohit Moitra Mancha had been lying unused for long and the agreement would help its revival and create a new place for theatre production, mayor Sovan Chatterjee said while signing the deal in the presence of Arpita and Bratya.

The CMC will pay the group Rs 16.5 lakh annually to meet production costs.

“We will invite directors to stage plays. They will hold auditions and select actors according to their needs. The money will be given to the actors and the groups that stage plays to meet production costs,” said Arpita, whose group will play the role of a “creative assistant”.

The first play to be staged is the Saoli Mitra-directed Chand Boniker Pala, probably in February next year. “This is Sambhu Mitra’s birth centenary year. He never staged this play in Bengal. Saolidi will stage the play and with that we will begin the new journey of Mohit Moitra Mancha,” Bratya said.

The deal says Natya Sajan’s role will be strictly restricted to staging plays and honing talents. The group will form Binodini Repertory Theatre to train actors operating out of Mohit Moitra Mancha.

“We’ve decided to call it Binodini Repertory Theatre as a tribute to Nati Binodini,” said Arpita. But unlike Minerva Repertory Theatre, where all actors get a monthly allowance from the state government, the CMC will pay those at Mohit Moitra Mancha on the basis of productions they work in.

Arpita said the annual payout from the CMC would not be enough to run shows through the year. “We have to look for sponsors and other sources of funding to stage (the quota) of 52 plays a year,” said the Trinamul MP for Balurghat.

“More than two years ago, we had requested the CMC to do something for art and culture. We had told our chief minister too and she agreed. We recommended theatre-related work to the CMC since Bengal is one of the few Indian states known for theatre. The selection happened through tenders and a screening process,” she said.

“Natya Sajan will help hire directors on a contract of minimum 20 shows. It will be up to the director to choose the play and the actors. Other members like Anish Ghosh and Debesh Chattopadhyay of this 11-member group will take care of everyday affairs,” she added.

Natya Sajan was selected from among nine applicants that had bid for the theatre hall in February.

It will be allowed to organise 52 plays a year, on Saturdays and Sundays. “Any other group can apply to stage their productions. The CMC will remain in charge of the hall,” said Debashis Kumar, a mayoral council member.