Down memory lane
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- Published 30.08.13
|The dais at the Howrah Town Hall which was used as a stage. Pictures by Anup Bhattacharya|
Subhasish Bhattacharya, resident of Ramrajatala.
The Howrah Town Hall is one of the few heritage landmarks of Howrah town from the British era, just like it is in Calcutta. Being a descendant of Babu Kedarnath Bhattacharya, who was an influential zamindar, financier and the first Bengali vice-chairman of Howrah Municipality, I had read somewhere that he had organised the first All India National Congress meeting at the Howrah Town Hall on August 29, 1891. The meeting was presided over by Surendranath Banerjee. In the post-Independence era, the Town Hall became an important community centre for the people of Howrah. Many theatre groups staged their plays here. However, I feel that the Town Hall must be used for conferences, seminars and other important administrative meetings to keep the legacy in tact and also to help in maintaining the hall.
Aloke Mukherjee, former judge.
I have attended many meetings and cultural programmes at the Howrah Town Hall. At that time, important events in Howrah would always be held there. I remember attending the launch of Asit Bandopadhyay’s book, Howrah Saharer Itibritta, at the town hall. Rabindranath Tagore, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and other leaders have been at the hall at different times. I have not visited the hall after restoration. I wonder if they have done it up the same way.
Sudhansu Jiban Ganguly, freedom fighter.
I have attended many political and administrative meetings at the Howrah Town Hall. The most important one that I remember is when the Left Front formed the Howrah Municipality in 1951 and Kartick Dutta became its chairman. I attended the meeting and celebrations that were held at the town hall. Many leaders have visited the town hall, including Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Sarat Bose and many others. Jatin Das’s body was kept in Howrah Town Hall for a day for people to pay their last respect.
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE
Arun Mukhopadhyay, theatre personality.
Although I have left Howrah many years back, I have memories of visiting the town hall and also performing there. When I was in college, I remember, a competition of one-act plays was held every year at the town hall. I participated in it every year. My group, Chetana, has done many shows there, sometimes jointly with Nata-Natyam. At that time, the town hall was the only place with a small stage where theatre groups could, at least, organise a show. It was an ideal place for intimate theatre. I have not seen the hall after restoration, so I don’t know whether it has been restored exactly to its original state, but this hall was the best place for theatre.
Jagamohan Majumdar, theatre director.
My group, Nata-Natyam, would regularly perform at Howrah Town Hall from 1977 to 1982. I have done experimental shows at this hall at that time where the stage and the audience would merge on one platform. Viewers would sit on mats spread out on the floor. At that time, there was no bus service to the hall. Now many buses cross that point. However, after Sarat Sadan has come up, I feel that it will be difficult for people to re-establish Howrah Town Hall as the first choice for cultural events.