wiki:Utpal dutt

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Utpal Dutt

Prolific Bengali and Hindi actor born in Shillong, Assam; also director and a major Marxist theatre personality in Bengal. After 1977 associated with the CPI(M). Started career in the 40s with Geoffrey Kendall’s theatre group performing Shakespeare, later directing Shakespeare for the Little Theatre Group. Formed his own group in 1949, then joined the Bengal unit of IPTA (1950-1) doing agitational plays staged on street corners and occasionally during political rallies to massive audiences, such as Chargesheet (1950), written overnight following the arrest of CP members and performed next day at Hazra Park. The Special Train was performed on behalf of striking workers of the Hindustan Automobile Factory, Uttarpara (1961). Also did theatrical spectaculars: Angar (1959), Kallol (1965; a play about the Royal Indian Navy mutiny of 1946, sparking off political rallies), Din Badaler Pala (1967, written for the CPI(M)’s electoral campaign) and Tiner Talwar (1970). Barricade (1972) and Dushwapner Nagari (1975) were staged in the context of the Emergency. Also made major interventions in the Jatra form (e.g. Rifle, Sanyasir Tarabari). Claims influence of Erwin Piscator to ‘create proletarian myths of revolution’ (cf. Dutt, 1984). His work, comprising mostly historical reconstructions, was criticised by the Left for its determinism and the recourse to the ‘ great man’ theory of history. Prolific film actor with a spectacular début as Michael Madhusudhan, a legendary 19th C. Bengali poet, repeating the role several times on the stage. After Mrinal Sen’s Bhuvan Shome, shifted to Hindi films, often playing retired soldiers or bluff comedian fathers (Guddi) in melodramas. Also important comedy roles in Bengali, e.g. Mohan Baganer Meye, Shriman Prithviraj et al. Claimed to act in films mainly to finance his theatrical work. Played key roles in recent Satyajit Ray films, e.g. the king in Hirak Rajar Deshe and the stranger in Agantuk. Directorial work extends his theatrical work. Autobiography, including his views on theatre, published in 1982. Stridently populist essays on film, often targeting the New Indian Cinema were published after his death as Towards A Heroic Cinema (1994).

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