Elite drama school entry spurs theatre revival dream - Steel city artiste Jeetrai Hansda bags a seat in NSD, New Delhi, promises to take tribal issues to national stage

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By ANTARA BOSE in Jamshedpur
  • Published 5.07.09

Jamshedpur, July 5: Theatre actor Jeetrai Hansda has staged a feat.

For 12 long years he has been into theatre, but no act of his can equal this one — a coveted berth in the prestigious National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi, which is a cradle of excellence that has produced veteran actors such as Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri.

Hansda’s achievement is all the more special and laudable, as very few can actually make it to the NSD, even lesser from Jharkhand, where theatre is on the verge of extinction. He is the third student from the state to have found a place at NSD after eminent theatre personalities such as Ajay Malkani and Nandlal Nayak.

The 34-year-old Hansda, a resident of Bagbera in Jamshedpur, will study a three-year diploma course in dramatic arts in NSD, an autonomous organisation under the Union ministry of culture. He bagged the seat in his second attempt and is one of the 25 students selected from across the country this year.

“It is like a dream come true. I had been wanting to study at NSD for a long time now. But I could not apply earlier because I was not a graduate. It was just to try for a place in the prestigious institute that I completed my graduation in 2006 and now, I am pursuing a masters degree at Jamshedpur Co-operative College,” said Hansda, who will join classes at the Delhi institute from July 27.

Now that he is going to live his dream, he must have a lot of ambitious plans up his sleeve? Hansda, who is a well-known face in the field of theatre and the Santhali film circuit, humbly replies: “I want to breathe fresh life into the dying theatre industry in the state.”

“I have always felt the need to work for the cause of theatre, particularly tribal theatre, which is on its deathbed. It is difficult to grow in this city as an actor. Nobody is interested in tribal theatre these days. But I want to revive the beautiful art and NSD will serve as the right platform. I plan to take tribal theatre to the NSD stage so that students from elsewhere can know about our issues,” he said.

“Besides, I want to make enough contacts for the revival of drama here. Theatre in the state has been languishing because of lack of funds and infrastructure,” he added.

In his 12-year career, Hansda has written about 25 scripts on tribal issues, besides working as the assistant director in about three Santhali films. His has performed in several places such as Durgapur, Agra and Mysore, and has a theatre group called Maidis Artiste Association of Tribals.

He is as clear about his future plans. “I don’t have the looks of a hero to make it big in Bollywood. Neither do I have any such ambition. Rather, I want to come back to my state and work harder to popularise theatre,” he said.

Hansda is confident that his stay in the national capital will arm him with better knowledge. “I hope to get a lot of opportunities there to exhibit my skills. At the same time, I hope to learn. After coming back, I will use my knowledge to overcome the shortcomings of the theatre industry here,” he added.

“We have been trying to promote tribal theatre for the past eight years and Hansda’s take on tribal issues is unparalleled. We need more creative minds like him. Students of this state lack imagination and ideas. That’s why they cannot make it to eminent institutes like NSD. But Hansda’s feat will serve as an inspiration. We hope that more youths will follow in his footsteps and seek to revive our indigenous theatre,” said Amitava Ghosh, the member secretary of Jamshedpur Kala Evam Sanskritik Parishad.