All the world's a stage
Almost 40 years ago, a group of friends, right after fighting the Liberation War side by side, still felt a kind of emptiness. They had brought freedom to their motherland, but they felt there was something more they could do.
After a period of thoughts and plans, Dhaka Theatre was born. The prime movers were Nasiruddin Yousuff Bachchu, Shafiqur Rahman, Syed Salahuddin Zaki, Raisul Islam Asad, Selim Al Deen and a few others. Forty years later, on July 29, Dhaka Theatre celebrates its triumph and success in taking this country further through the medium of theatre and culture.
“I wouldn't say it was a smooth journey. We sailed through an ocean of big waves, but here we are, celebrating our 40th year and we are still going strong,” says Nasiruddin Yousuff, current director and organiser of Dhaka Theatre. Dhaka Theatre has been successful in its attempt to revolutionise theatre in Bangladesh.
“We have established the concept of 'Paachali Natok'--storytelling-based drama. Along with that, we have introduced classical theatre, classical realism theatre and much more. We have also blended other art forms into theatre like dancing and singing. With all these combined, I would say Dhaka Theatre has definitely come a long way,” continues Bachchu.
In celebration of their 40th anniversary, Dhaka Theatre will stage a medley of performances of some of their biggest hits -- “Shongbad Cartoon”, “Kittankhola”, “Muntasir Fantasy”, “Shakuntala”, “Keramot Mangal”, “Haat Hodai” and “Bono Pangshul”, to name a few. Through this celebration, some of the biggest names in the Bengali film and theatre industry and veteran members who have moved on to different lives in different places, who have emerged from Dhaka Theatre, are all making a comeback on stage. Those returning on the stage of Dhaka Theatre after an interregnum are Fakhrul Basher Masum, Afzal Hossain, Raisul Islam Asad, Zahiruddin Peyar, Shomi Kaiser and Shubhashish Bhowmik. Joining them will be existing members and new comers.
“I still see Dhaka Theatre moving forward on this wonderful journey that we have embarked upon 40 years ago. But I don't think I will be in-charge throughout all their triumphs. I plan on working on two more production of Selim Al Deen and maybe a couple of more foreign productions, but after that, I will probably be retiring from my post,” says Yousuff.
Forty years into the journey surrounded by the wonder that is theatre, everyone who has been a part of this institution, new and old, has had a special bond with it -- a certain kind of passion to keep going and taking themselves further along with it. In a span of four decades, we have witnessed Dhaka Theatre produce some of the biggest names in the industry: Shimul Yusuff, Suborna Mustafa, Humayun Faridee, Raisul Islam Asad, Shahiduzzaman Selim, Pijush Bandhyopadhyay, Afzal Hossain, Shomi Kaiser and many more; the streak continues as more talented individuals continue to emerge from this prestigious institution.