" Mitra died May 19, 1997."
Kolkata, Aug 22 - Dubbed as the pioneer of contemporary Bengali theatre, thespian Sombhu Mitra's birth centenary celebrations were ushered in Friday with discussions revisiting his works and interviews of those associated with him.

Born Aug 22, 1915, the Ramon Magsaysay Award winner produced some of the finest adaptations of world classics for Bengali audiences.

Be it the maiden staging of 'Rakta Karabi' or red oleanders (adapted from Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's play) or 'Putulkhela', an adaptation of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's 'A Doll's House', his works mirrored society and showcased the triumph of humanity over materialism.

In 1948, after disassociating from the Indian People's Theatre Association, he founded the theatre group 'Bohurupee' with 15 artists including theatre veterans Bijon Bhattacharya. Mitra's wife Tripti, another legend of Bengali theatre was also one of the co-founders.

The non-commercial dramatic troupe churned out experimental Bengal plays that broke away from stereotypes and gathered a cult following.

The versatile genius made a mark as an actor, playwright and director.

Some of his popular films include Dharti Ke Lal (1946), Jagte Raho (1956) and plays such as Chand Baniker Pala.

On the occasion of the prolific playwright's birth centenary, DD Bharti will telecast Bohurupee's production 'Dak Ghar' directed by his wife, Tripti.

The play features Mitra, actors Chaiti Ghoshal and Kumar Roy.

Ghoshal, with other theatre veterans and Bengali film and TV actors participated in a discussion 'Sotoborshe Sombu Mitra' at the Gallery Gold here.

During the week, celebrated director-actor and cultural critic Rudraprasad Sengupta will deliver a commemorative lecture Aug 24 at the Uttam Manch in Kolkata.

Mitra died May 19, 1997.

He was honoured by the Sangeet Natak Akademi with its highest award, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution in 1966. In 1970, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, and in 1976 the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

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