Sombhu Mitra

Sombhu Mitra

Sombhu Mitra ((August 22, 1915 – May 19, 1997) was one of the pre-eminent Indian theatre personalities. He was born in Kolkata. His first appearance in Bengali theatre was in Rangmahal Theatre in north Kolkata in 1939. In 1943, he joined Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA). In 1944, several old theatrical conventions were broken when the play Navanna written by Bijon Bhattacharya and co-directed by Sombhu Mitra for IPTA was staged. In 1948, Sombhu Mitra formed a new theatre group, Bohurupee in Kolkata, which ushered the group-theatre movement in West Bengal. He married Tripti, who was also a celebrated personality in the Bengali theatre. Their daughter, Shaoli is a noted actress, director and playwright. He died in Kolkata.

The Bohurupee productions

Under Sombhu Mitra’s direction, the Bohurupee staged several successful productions. In December 1950, the Bohurupee presented three plays in the New Empire theatre - Tulsi Lahiri’s Pathik and Chenda Tar and Sombhu Mitra’s own creation, Ulukhagra. In 1954, Rabindranath Tagore’s Rakta Karabi was staged by the Bohurupee, followed by his Bisarjan, Raja and Char Adhyay. Other notable productions include Bidhyak Bhattacharya’s Tahar Namti Ranjana and Kanchanranga. Under his direction, this group also presented the Bengali adaptations of several well-known dramas from the world stage. Henrik Ibsen’s Putul Khela (Doll’s House), Dashachakra (An Enemy of the People) and Sophocles' Raja Oidipaus (Oedipus Rex) are notable amongst them.

In these productions he performed as Rahimuddin in Chenda Tar, Atin in Char Adhyay, Binod in Ulukhagra, Tapan in Putul Khela, Dr. Purnendu Guha in Dashachakra, Oidipaus in Raja Oidipaus.

In movies

Sombhu Mitra performed in several movies in Bengali and Hindi. The notable amongst them are:

  • Dharti Ke Lal (1946) (Hindi)
  • Abhiyatri (1947) (Bengali)
  • Dhatri Debata (1948) (Bengali)
  • Abarta (1949) (Bengali)
  • ’42 (1949) (Bengali)
  • Hindustan Hamara (1950) (Hindi)
  • Pathik (1953) (Bengali)
  • Bau Thakuranir Hat (1953) (Bengali)
  • Maharaj Nandakumar (1953) (Bengali)
  • Maraner Pare (1954) (Bengali)
  • Shivashakti (1954) (Bengali)
  • Durlabh Janma (1955) (Bengali)
  • Manik (1961) (Bengali)
  • Suryasnan (1962) (Bengali)
  • Panna (1967) (Bengali)
  • Natun Pata (1969) (Bengali)
  • Nishachar (1971) (Bengali)

He wrote the story and screenplay of Jagte Raho (1956) and also co-directed it along with Amit Maitra. He also directed a Bengali movie, Shubha Bibaha in 1959.

Honours and awards

Sombhu Mitra received many national and international awards, which include the Desikottama from Visva Bharati University in 1989, an honorary D. Litt from both Rabindra Bharati University and Jadavpur University of Kolkata, the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1976 for journalism, literature and creative communication arts and the Padmabhushan in the same year. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1966. For his contribution in the movies, he won the Grand-Prix Award at the Karlovivari International Film Festival. Madhya Pradesh Government honored him with Kalidas Samman.

See also


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