I came to appreciate Utpal Dutt relatively late, considering. Although I recall seeing Bhuvan Shome in a pokey theatre in Calcutta in the 1960's (being more stricken by Suhasini Mulay, admittedly) it was not until Golmaal that I became a fan. Of course now seeing the earlier movies is much more rewarding, although Golmaal will remain a favourite...
As a playwright, director, or as actor Dutt (1929-93) was inspired. This year Seagull, Kolkata have brought out four books by him. "Dutt tried to take revolutionary theatre to the widest mass of people, with political messages for every turning point in a highly sensitive and rapidly changing political scenario, redefining his relationship with the political leadership again and again, getting into violent confrontations with various forces, being driven underground, and getting jailed in the process. His legacy of plays and other writing remain a valuable chapter in Indian theatre history."
On Cinema is a "collection of Dutt’s cinema writings, including his unpublished telefilmscript, In Search of Theatre, reveals a keen critical eye, an impressive knowledge of cinema all over the world and a deep understanding of the price any artist must pay for his commitment to his politics. Written with a sensibility steeped equally in the classics and Marxism, these pieces help us appreciate not only some of the world’s greatest filmmakers but also Dutt himself—the vast range of influences that coloured his creativity and his aesthetics."
On Theatre is a "collection of Dutt’s theatre writings, including the transcript of a round-table on ‘Jatra and Its Relevance’ that he participated in, records the evolution of his theatre sensibility, nurtured on Shakespeare and Communism, Jatra and Sophocles. No play escaping his attention, and no actor or director held sacred, Dutt attacks and analyses, compliments and condemns, venting both his ire and his appreciation with equal gusto, and reveals, in the process, his high expectations not only of his contemporaries but, most importantly, also of himself."
Three Plays presents three of Dutt’s plays, "in his own translation, each exploring human relationships and the tensions of class and power in a revolutionary situation. Hunting the Sun (Surya Shikar) takes us back to the pre-Mughal period, with Buddhism emerging as an intellectual revolutionary force; The Great Rebellion (Mahavidroha) is set in the battlefields of the First Indian War of Independence in 1857; and Nightmare City (Duswapner Nagari) is set on yet another battlefield—the city of Calcutta in the 1970s."
In Towards a Revolutionary Theatre, "Dutt explores the contradictions between an actor’s personality and his roles as he is forced to juggle the socio-political influences of his times. He debates on ‘political theatre’, attempting to place revolution in its historical perspective and presents his own views on matters revolutionary, drawing upon his incredible reading of world history, theatre and literature. He also writes of his association with the Indian People’s Theatre Association and the Little Theatre Group, his Marxist leanings and his determination to make a mark in ‘active politics’ through his entire body of creative output."
Like all Seagull titles, the books are imaginatively produced. They are listed in our Film Studies and Drama Sections.
On Cinema, Hardcover, 168 pages, Rs 350. ISBN : 9788170462521
On Theatre, Hardcover, 208 pages, Rs 475. ISBN: 9788170462514
Three Plays: Hunting the Sun, Hardcover, 282 pages, Rs 475. ISBN : 9788170462569
Towards a Revolutionary Theatre Hardcover, 180 pages, Rs 395. ISBN : 9788170463405