Playwright Bijon Bhattacharya passed away on this day in the city. He is most remembered for his play Nabanna, but wrote several other plays, as well as film scripts, and was an acclaimed actor on stage and screen.
Deeply influenced by Marxist ideas, Bhattacharya, who was a member of the undivided Communist Party of India, was one of the driving forces behind the IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association). Bhattacharya was associated with IPTA, a progressive cultural platform that aimed to represent popular struggles through art and performance, from the start.
Nabanna (1944), written In the context of World War I and the famine it unleashed on Bengal, is a stark portrayal of the plight of ordinary human beings crushed to poverty, hunger and death by a man-made disaster. IPTA considered the play “path-breaking” for its movement. Bhattacharya’s play Mara Chaand is about a blind baul singer. Gotrantar is about refugees from East Bengal. In 1970 he wrote Laash Ghuirya Jauk. He acted memorably in many of his own plays.
He also acted in several films, including Ritwik Ghatak’s films Badi Theke Paliye, Meghe Dhaka Tara and Subarnarekha, and Mrinal Sen’s Padatik. He wrote scripts for mainstream films as well and was associated with the Hindi film industry from the late 40s for a few years.
It is almost forgotten that Bhattacharya wrote the script of Saare Chuattor, one of the best Indian comedy films.
He was married to the writer Mahasweta Devi. Their son was Nabarun Bhattacharya, another renowned writer.