Thespian Sohini Sengupta on why she turned down Sacred Games
Sohini Sengupta, a renowned stage and film actor, skilfully juggles three roles -- that of a school teacher, a homemaker and the key person behind the 58-year-old theatre group, Nandikar, founded in 1960 and nurtured by her parents Rudraprasad Sengupta and SwatilekhaSengupta. This year, the 10-day long Nandikar Theatre Festival starting from December 16, will focus on youth and new theatre.
How has the festival and theatre in Bengal changed during the past 34 years?
The festival that was started in 1984 by my father, Rudraprasad Sengupta to facilitate cultural integration, saw stalwarts like Habib Tanvir, Jabbar Patel and others in its initial years. For the past few years, there are more experimental plays being done by young actors. This year we will also be holding an exhibition on the past 34 national theatre festivals of Nandikar.
Bengali theatre is going through one of its best phases - there is a fresh breath of air with innovative ideas in terms of content, production and acting.
What are the noteworthy performances to be held this year?
All famous plays of Nandikar will be staged including Anto-Aadi-Anto, Rani Kadambini, Nachni, Madhabi, and Panchajanyo. Besides, some of our latest productions like Mritunjyoy and Byatikram will also be there. There will be a new play for children called Bahaner Baynakka. Besides we have a new play, Rasta, by talented youngster Saptarshi Maulik.
Among other groups Arna Mukherjee’s Othoi will be there and one will realise after watching it why actor Anirban Bhattacharya needs to be more on stage. There will also be Kaushik Sen’s Taray Taray and Opobitro.
Also, we also have reputed groups from Patna, Jharkhand, Guwahati, Gangtok and Delhi, who will be showcasing their plays.
Theatre in Kolkata has a rich heritage. Are the present groups capable of carrying forward that legacy?
Remarkable experiments are being conducted by new groups. Many lesser known small groups such as Belghoria Obhimukh, Natadha and others are doing splendid job. The young theatre actors are driven by passion and a will to do to something new. And to celebrate and encourage that spirit of youth, this year four young guns of theatre are iunaugurating our festival. They are Monalisa, Upabela, Saptarshi Maulik and Buddha. And this festival, I couldn't have managed without the help of my young colleagues Anindita, Ayon, Arghya, Shubhadeep, Somes and Kuldeep.
You had once said in the media that you do not get scripts that do justice to your acting talent that has limited your appearance in films. Do you still feel that void?
Absolutely. I feel that the Bengali film industry and Bollywood are driven by male actors and whatever roles the female actors get are ancillary. I want roles which will do justice to me as an actor. I don’t act for a living but I act out of passion. Recently, I turned down an offer for a role in Sacred Games since it was a hit and miss role. I also refused a couple of roles in Yash Raj films on the same ground. Later, when I watched the movies, I realised I was right in doing so.