The man who has penned more than 150 plays in Assamese Mobile Theatre

By Gaurav Das
Guwahati, November 14: Abhijeet Bhattacharya, the uncrowned playwright king of the Assamese Bhraymaman or the mobile theatre genre, the only one of its kind in the world, has become a name to reckon with.
A literary spin doctor who scripts plays for the Assamese mobile theatre connoisseurs has carved a niche for himself. Bhattacharya’s name also has got entangled in various controversies especially allegations of creating a syndicate in Assamese Theatre. He influences multiple management decisions of Assamese theatre groups, some people accuse.
A career spanning two decades, he has around 150 plays to his credit for prominent theatre companies like Awahan, Kohinoor, Rajtilak, Itihas, Chiranjeev, Bordoisila, Rajshree, Sudarshan and others addressing various issues.
The initial phase of his career started off with the stage adaptation of plays like ‘Kabuliwallar Bidehsi Koina’ which is based on a Bengali novel and ‘Dora Hobo Kun’ which turned out to be a commercial hit.
In the present season ‘Moi Mur Ma Suwali’, ‘Mary Kom’ ‘Morome Kandise’ and ‘Dadagiri’ are just a few of the latest offering from the man who calls the shots from every angle right from the need for stage ambience, production control, actors’ performing style and others.
The summer months is a time for mobile theatre actors and actresses of the waning Assamese film industry to get busy and get into the skin of characters they will be portraying in front of a live audience. The theatre companies are already working on new and different themes of plays to attract people.
The Assamese Mobile Theatre has perhaps become the last bastion for the actors and the actresses to showcase their talents and make some good money, compared to what they earn in films. Life in Mobile Theater is hectic as the season starts in August and continues till spring. Rehearsals are at peak during the summer months. For every new season, the theatre companies churn out different productions.
Production costs average around Rs 50 lakh and at times it even crosses the one crore mark depending on the production value. The fees charged by actors can range anything between Rs 25 to 30 lakh rupees for one year depending on the contract and star value of the actors.
“The biggest challenge for me is to cater to the taste of the audience. I have to be careful to what I write and how is it interpreted by the audiences. The taste of the audiences has changed in the last couple of years and I have to be sure that when I write it has to be presented in a different kind of style on stage. The presentation is important no matter what I write,” added Bhattacharya.
Even though most of the thespian’s plays cater to commercial feasibility, his repertoire of work is not without penning of stories of people faced with societal challenges and tough issues that normally one would prefer not to talk about.
Few years back, the mobile theatre circuit started off with ‘Upolobdhi’ or ‘The Realization’ an AIDS-related theme aimed at creating a positive message about people afflicted with HIV and the social stigma attached to the disease. The play loosely based on a true story was penned by Bhattacharya, who tried to bring out a sympathetic hue towards those suffering from it.
In the play ‘Moi Mur Ma Suwali’ starring Prastuti Parashar, Bhattacharya addresses the problem of autism. It was for the first time the issue was explored in the mobile theatre genre. In the near future, Bhattacharya plans for a story on an extramarital affair with a female protagonist embarking on a forbidding relationship.
“Earlier a play used to run for almost two years but now times have changed. Now there is an expiry date. At max, a play can continue for seven months. Today the urban and rural dive has narrowed. As a writer, I cannot abandon one for the other. I have to look at their perspective in an equal measure,” said Bhattacharya.
Edited by: Arnab Jyoti Das
Royal Global University