My friend Imran Matin once gave me Saadat Hasan Manto's book Kingdom and Other Stories, I didn't know anything about Saadat Hasan before this. I really liked how the book looked - the cover was simply beautiful, it was a collection of short stories, but alas, I never got to read it. After I finally managed to pick up the book and finish it, I failed to realize why I didn't do this before. The entire book, transported me to a Pakistan I never knew existed, once again I asked myself why I never got around to reading this most excellent piece of literature. The philosophic ideas, concepts, and views I found in the book, were something I myself believe in, this just made me want more. So I began my quest to unearth more of his work and in doing so I came across another Pakistani writer by the name of Ismat Chuktai. Chuktai's books were rich in vivid detail and philosophies and all neatly packed in collections of short stories, similar to those of Manto.
When I was young, I was heavily involved in Dhaka Little Theatre. As I grew older, so did my love for the stage which led me to join the Dhaka Theatre. I was soon awarded a NSD (National School of Drama) scholarship, but acting was seen as something impractical by my family back then and thus made my dream nothing more than a memory of what could have been. Instead I went to India to study Economics. It was at this time that I met Imran and found Manto. I knew that his stories would make excellent stage acts. I decided to join Savdar Hashmi's theatre group “Jana Nattya Manch”, a group that not only shared my thoughts but also put them into action in the form of street plays.
There is something different about Manto's thought process, something that we could learn from, I thought to myself. These plays, the messages they convey, the issues and problems they tackle and the sense of belonging they portray could easily be adapted for the Bangladeshi audience. Up until now this was just a thought, however, this thought became something real when Irecently met with Usha Ganguli in Dhaka and found that she is staging three of Saadat Hasan Manto's short stories with Nagorik Nattya Samprodai.
While talking with Usha, we discussed how Bangladesh, India and Pakistan were a single nation in the past. We talked about how each nation strived, fought for and obtained freedom to live in peace and harmony. We wanted peace, and we wanted every part of it, we wanted to get rid of everything that plagued society, rape, murder, extortion, trafficking, dowry torture, muggings, thievery and other such issues. We thought this would end when we got our freedom, but it did not, these things continued and grew bigger than before. The more I saw Usha's plays, the more I got to know her, I realized that she is someone who doesn't just give voice to words but someone who loads them with so much meaning and ideas, that once shot towards the audience, they know of her message of eradicating oppression against caste, creed, sex, revolving against narrow mindedness, and putting an end towards regional and economic biasness. All in all, I conclude this week's story on Usha Ganguli and her soul gripping work and eagerly wait to witness her new act called Naam Gotrohin Mantor Meyera. It is with great honour that we present Usah Ganguli as this week's cover story of Star Showbiz.