The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Assamese drama loses titan

Guwahati, Dec. 9: A debilitating ailment today brought the curtain down on the life of one of Assamese drama's most successful practitioners, Mahendra Barthakur.

Credited with giving mobile theatre some of its finest scripts, Barthakur died at a private nursing home in Guwahati at 2.35 pm. He was 71.

One of the dramatist's three sons said the last rites would be performed at the Nabagraha crematorium tomorrow. 'We have decided to keep the body at the morgue tonight as there is a wedding in our neighbour's family,' another family member said.

The body will be taken to his residence at the Chandmari Artistes' Colony tomorrow morning for his numerous fans and well-wishers to pay their tributes.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi led the state in condoling the death of the dramatist, who had been battling throat cancer for two years and lost his voice after undergoing a major surgery last year. Gogoi, who rushed to the private nursing home on learning of his demise, said Barthakur's 'new stream of stagecraft' was the yardstick by which the next generation of playwrights would be assessed.

The late dramatist's oeuvre of 57 plays includes Saraguri Chapori, Bishnu Rabha and Sanglat Fenla, the last one being a stage adaptation of slain journalist Parag Das' controversial novel on the life of a militant. Barthakur also wrote seven novels, over 100 short stories and scripts for several Assamese films.

Theatre veteran Kulada Kumar Bhattacharyya described Barthakur's death as a benumbing loss. 'I share the grief and anguish of the family members. The death of my friend and close associate is a loss for the literary and theatre fraternity. His advent had marked the beginning of a new era of drama writing with a strong touch of the past, present and future.'

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