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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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