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Curtain rises on Ganga-Jamuna Festival

News Desk: The Ganga-Jamuna Theatre and Cultural Festival, one of the major theatre festivals of the country, saw its curtain rise at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) on October 6. Eminent theatre personality Aly Zaker inaugurated the festival at the National Theatre Hall Auditorium, where Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor graced the occasion as chief guest. Eminent thespians — Ramendu Majumdar, Mamunur Rashid; BSA DG Liaquat Ali Lucky and Rajesh Ukie, secretary to the India Bangladesh Foundation, attended the ceremony as special guests. Convener of the festival organising committee Golam Kuddus presided over the programme.

Shedding light on cultural exchange between two countries, Aly Zaker said, “We will understand and get close to each other through literary and cultural practices. We share the same literary and cultural legacy; masterpieces by towering personalities like Tagore, Nazrul, Jibanananda Das, Shamsur Rahman, Syed Shamsul Haq and Selim Al Deen are celebrated in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. I hope the youth of both the countries will take our rich culture to the world.”

“Cultural activists can help shape a humanistic society at the backdrop of ominous features like extremism and social anomie,” said Asaduzzaman Noor in his address. Regarding the absence of new plays on the festival’s schedule, the minister said: “We can impose a condition for holding such a prestigious festival where, except some classical productions, all the productions should be new ones. To meet this end, we have to assist the theatre troupes of Bangladesh and India.”

A scene from Prachyanat’s “Circus Circus”. Photo: Sheikh Mehedi Morshed

“Theatre audience has waned in numbers in recent years. We have to conduct a professional survey addressing the issue. I am also urging the cultural affairs minister to cooperate with the concerned ministries to facilitate easier travel regulations of theatre and cultural activists of both the countries,” said Ramendu Majumdar.

A total of 29 theatre troupes from Bangladesh and India are taking part in the festival with their tried and tested productions simultaneously at three venues –National Theatre Hall, Experimental Theatre Hall and Studio Theatre Hall of BSA. The staging of the production starts at 7pm daily. However, there is no participation of district-level theatre troupes and their productions, or even from Chittagong, which does come off as a little odd. A cultural festival, incorporating the performance of street theatres, mime, recitation, music and dance starts at 4pm every day at the open stage of BSA.

On the opening day, Prachyanat staged their production “Circus Circus” at the National Theatre Hall, while Prangonemor staged “Condemned Cell” at the Experimental Theatre Hall and Loko Natya Dal (Banani) staged “Boikunther Khata” at the Studio Theatre Hall of BSA.

The cultural affairs ministry of the Government of Bangladesh, the India Bangladesh Foundation and BSA are assisting in the festival, dedicated to Amalesh Chakrabarty who started the festival in India 20 years back. “Amalesh Chakrabarty, originally from Noakhali, Bangladesh, dreamt of mingling the cultural flows of Ganga and Jamuna through holding the festival as homage to his birthplace. Following that, the festival has regularly been held in Bangladesh since 2012. The identical theatre practice, platform and exchange between Bangladesh and India could have been established earlier. I hope it will happen in the days ahead,” mentioned Mamunur Rashid.

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