Photo: Mumit M.
Very few artistes in this world have attained mastery over mime, the base of all performing art forms. Etienne Decroux is the father of modern mime, while the greatest mime maestro Marcel Marceau is thought to be the father of French mime.
Partha Pratim Majumder is undoubtedly the forerunner of mime in Bangladesh. He started his career as a musician but his keen sense of rhythm enabled him to let his limbs move and express his surroundings through gestures.
“ 'Natya Shastra' of Bharata Muni is the earliest surviving text on theatre and drama where Indian theatre encompasses all the different forms of fine arts and literature like dance, music, mime, movement, sculpture, painting and architecture,” says Majumder.
Born in an arty family of Pabna, Bangladesh in 1954, initially, Partha received schooling on mime from Jogesh Dutta of Calcutta from 1966 to 1972, but his unquenchable thirst for the genre put him in touch with world-renowned artistes.
In 1981, Partha moved to Paris to study mime with Etienne Decroux. From 1982 to 1985 he studied at Marcel Marceau's mime school in Paris and was a member of his touring company. Partha is now based in Paris and works regularly in French films, theatre and publicity. Since the mid-1980s his artistic excellence has unfolded on the illuminated stages both at home and abroad. His devotion and sensitivity uplift an ordinary theme to a sublime height, transcending cultural barriers.
Grameenphone joined hands with world-renowned performer Partha to revive the art of mime in Bangladesh. The announcement of setting up a mime academy was made in the middle of this year at a Mime Carnival arranged by Grameenphone at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel. Dr. Atiur Rahman, Governor of Bangladesh Bank; Grameenphone's Chief People Officer, Arnfinn Groven and Chief Communications Officer, Kazi Monirul Kabir, were present at the carnival.
At the carnival, Grameenphone launched a series of TV commercials. All the TVCs feature mime performances by Partha. The TVCs are on air and are expected to popularise mime among the masses.
“Mime has its roots in theatrics. I conduct classes on mime around the world. Mime is slowly losing its appeal in Bangladesh, as it was not nurtured properly. I suppose I have a responsibility towards my country. Grameenphone will set up a mime academy of international standard that will act as a platform for all the performing art forms. I plan to stay in Bangladesh every six months to look after the academy,” says Partha.
“Learning is a process that necessarily claims cognition, perception and symbolic interaction. The art of mime can be helpful in making children learn the artistic symbols like butterfly, fish, snake, flower etcetera, as these are essentially being learnt in schools of developed countries. The inner potential of children can flourish through learning mime. Again, both the basic and the performing art forms of Bangladesh are expected to get resurrected through setting up of this academy. My prime focus will be to uphold our rich folk culture through mime so that the identity of Bangladesh becomes unique in the world,” adds the artiste.
Grameenphone is a strong believer in the cultural strength of Bangladesh. The organisation believes that if the cultural heritage of the country is properly nurtured, it will be able to play a positive role in the development of Bangladesh.
“I have visited Bangladesh three times over the last one and- a- half years. This time I have come here to deliver a demonstration presentation on child sexual abuse. The presentation was held at Grameenphone Head Office on December 5. This is actually parental protection so that children underage cannot access adult sites through mobile and Internet. Grameenphone is providing technical assistance for the project to come into being,” says Majumder.
Partha Majumder delights in conducting mime classes and workshops with fellow artistes and students to promote the art of mime and share his expertise. He frequently works with hearing and speech impaired, using mime to develop skills in self-expression and communication.
Majumder was conferred the Master of Mime Award by the only mime academy of India “ Jogesh Mime Academy ” in 1987. The Journalist Association of Malaysia honoured him with Master of the World in the same year. Partha received the highest European honour for theatre named “Moliere Award” in 2009. He also received the Munier Chowdhury Award, the highest honour for theatre (Non Governmental) in 2009. And last but not the least he bagged the highest honour of Bangladesh Ekushey Padak in 2010.