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[PHOTOS] Transgender artists perform at WB theatre festival

Transgender artists of Natyamani group

By Arnab Mitra

Kolkata: Transgender artists from West Midnapore’s ‘Natyamani’ theatre group staged a Bengali play– ‘Ram Sitar Pala’ on the third day of the West Bengal Theatre Festival held at Rabindra Sadan from December 5-12.

Haripada Gorai, who played Ram, said that his village Palasbati was home to eight transgender people.

“We face all kinds of discrimination throughout the year… but we didn’t let it stop us from fulfilling our dream. This is the first time that we have got a chance to perform in Kolkata. It feels amazing to see so much appreciation from the audience,” he said.

Natyamani, formed in 2014, faced rigorous opposition from the District administration as well as the local people, on grounds of them being transgender. As a result, repeated attempts throughout the year to stage their play went futile.

Pushpa Kuhali, the founding member of the group said, “We decided to form the theatre group to protest against the constant inhumane torture we faced. But, after we started our rehearsals, villagers burnt our rehearsal place and we did not get any help from the administration.”

Kuhali extended heartiest thanks to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her initiative in giving Natyamani this stage.

“The society needs to change its attitude and respect every human being. Each person has the power to contribute towards building a good society and overall, a good country,” said Dr A K Ganguly, who was part of the audience.

The next show of ‘Ram-Sitar Pala’ will be staged in Behrampore.

Transgender artists


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Nandikar National Theatre Festival: Inaugurating play by Alipore Jail prisoners


By Arnab Mitra

The 32nd Nandikar National Theater Festival kicked off on Wednesday at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kolkata, with the inaugural play ‘Bhalomanush’ enacted by prisoners from the Alipore Central Jail.

Actress Sohini Sengupta, who directed the play, said, “We have worked together for six months for this play. While working with them, I realized one thing– human beings are not inherently bad. It’s the circumstances which force them into wrong-doings.”

“Criminal is the worst word in the dictionary. No one is a criminal in this world”, said the director’s father, veteran theater person Rudraprasad Sengupta, who heads the Nandikar theatre group.

Bhalomanush‘, which means a person with a clear heart, portrays how the society exploits a good soul.

In this exclusive video by NewsGram, one can see the repartee between the prisoners and the police on the backstage during interval. It shows how the police helped the prisoners with respect to their every need for staging this play.










However the Additional Director General of Correctional Services, Arun Kumar Gupta, did not want to comment, saying, “These are all rubbish.”

The annual 10-day festival which began in 1984, gives theatre lovers the opportunity to experience various thought-provoking plays from across the multi-cultural multi-lingual theatre spectrum. Acting troupes come from all over the country and abroad to perform in numerous languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, as well as in English and other foreign languages.

Theatre groups such as Brishchik from USA, Nandikar and Pancham Vaidik from Kolkata, Oorja from Delhi, and Raaga from Bihar will be participating in this year’s theatre festival. People will also get introduced to works of younger directors like Samrat Bose, Debabrata Maity and Susanta Mondal.

Tickets are available from Rs 100 onwards. Check out the festival schedule here.

The festival will drop the curtain on December 25 with the play ‘Nachni’ directed by Parthapratim Deb.

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