Legend of the Bengali stage Girish Chandra Ghosh was born on this day. He was an actor, director, composer and writer and also an exceptional theatre manager. He is credited with ushering in modern Bengali theatre on the popular stage. He was born in Bagbazar in Calcutta.
Ghosh had a vision that encompassed all aspects of the stage. He wrote and acted in many plays, set up many theatres, managed several and introduced many actors to the Bengali stage, including the famous actress Nati Binodini and also Tinkari Dasi and Tarasundari. At Bagbazar Amateur Theatre, Ardhendu Sekhar Mustafi, another legend, was his partner. Bagbazar Amateur was renamed National Theatre in 1872, the first Bengali theatre to start a ticketed show for the public. But Ghosh left National Theatre and established Great National Theatre in 1873. An association with Minerva Theatre followed.
In 1883, Ghosh opened Star Theatre with Nati Binodini's help and also managed it. In 1884, he staged his play Chaitanyalila with Binodini as Chaitanya. Sri Ramakrishna came to watch the play and liked it so much that he met Binodini after the performance and blessed her. Shri Ramakrishna’s presence at the theatre brought a new respectability to it, especially to the actresses, who mainly came from red-light areas.
Ghosh wrote 80-odd plays, including Chaitanyalila, Prahlad Charit, Buddhadev Charit, Nasiram, Prafulla and Abu Hussain. His plays Sirajud-Daula and Mir Qasim were banned by the British during the Swadeshi movement. Ghosh translated Shakespeare’s Macbeth into Bengali.
His brilliance as an actor was widely acknowledged. He was called the “Garrick of Bengal”.
He would gradually become one of the most devoted disciples of Sri Ramakrishna.