Kolkata's Hindi theatre veteran Usha Ganguli dies at 75 of heart attack
Veteran Hindi theatre director-actor Usha Ganguli passed away due to cardiac arrest last night and was found dead at her home today morning.
Usha lost her only brother a couple of days back and according to those close to the artiste, she was depressed and perhaps died of a broken heart. Her body was retrieved today after breaking open the door.
Known for her work in Hindi theatre in Kolkata in the 1970s and 1980s, she was 75 when she died. She founded the Rangakarmee theatre group in 1976, known for its productions like Mahabhoj, Rudali, Court Martial, and Antaryatra. Apart from thespian Shyamanand Jalan of Padatik (established 1972), she is the only other theatre director to practise Hindi theatre in Kolkata.
She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for direction, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama in 1998. She has also been honoured by the state government as the best actress for the play Gudia Ghar.
Born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, in a family hailing from the village Nerva in Uttar Pradesh, Usha Ganguly learnt Bharatanatyam and later moved to Kolkata, where she studied at Shri Shikshayatan College completing her master's degree in Hindi literature.
She started her career as a teacher at Bhowanipur Education Society College, Calcutt and in the same year, she started acting with Sangit Kala Mandir and also started work for her first play Mitti Ki Gadi (based on Mrichchakatikam by Shudrak) (1970), where she played the role of Vasantsena.
Trained by Tripti Mitra and Mrinal Sen, she formed Rangakarmee, in January 1976 which also invited guest directors, such as M.K. Anvase, who directed Mother, Tripti Mitra who directed Gudi Ghar, an adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll's House, besides Rudra Prasad Sengupta and Bibhash Chakraborty, before she started directing herself.
Soon her energetic style and disciplined ensemble work with the young, large casts brought a resurgence in the city's Hindi theatre arena. Her important productions include Mahabhoj (Great Feast) in 1984, based on Mannu Bhandari novel, Ratnakar Matkari's Lokkatha (Folktale) in 1987, Holi by playwright Mahesh Elkunchwar in 1989, and Rudali (1992), her own dramatised version of a story by Mahashweta Devi, Himmat Mai, an adaptation of Brecht's Mother Courage and notably Court Marital written by playwright Swadesh Deepak. She has written a play Kashinama (2003), based on a story, Kaane Kaun Kumati Lagi from the Kashinath Singh's classic work, Kashi Ka Assi and an original play Khoj.
She also worked on the script of Raincoat (2004) a Hindi film based on O Henry's The Gift of the Magi, directed by Rituparno Ghosh.