Bengal Theater Fraternity remembers Saoli Mitra | Bengali Cinema News

Veteran theater personality Saoli Mitra, who succumbed to a prolonged illness on Sunday, left a legacy that will forever inspire theater actors in Bengal. Known for her acting prowess, excellent voice modulation skills, and stage presence, Mitra was loved by all, especially those lucky enough to know her personally and learn from her. So while the Bengal Theater fraternity and others paid their respects to Rabindra Sadan on Monday night, we reached out to her protege and other actors who shared their memories of her with us. Here is what they told us.

BEING ABLE TO MANAGE SAOLIDI AT POSHUKHAMAR WAS THE MOST SPECIAL MOMENT OF MY LIFE: ARPITA GHOSH

I have always been in awe of everything about Saolidi, from his legacy to his character on stage. I joined Pancham Baidik in 2000, in my early thirties. She taught our classes the first day and it was a surreal feeling for me. The person I admired so much was really there, talking, teaching and laughing out loud. The general perception of Saolidi was that of a reserved woman filled with gravity; that she didn’t talk much and so on. In reality, she was a jovial person who laughed out loud at the first opportunity. Some time later she noticed that I was confused and asked me what was wrong. I told him that I had no accommodation. Without thinking twice, she said, “Tui amar sange thak”. And that’s all. I have stayed with her ever since.

A few years ago, she had pneumonia three times in one year. Later, as she recovered, doctors found a blockage in her heart. They suggested a pacemaker implant, but she flatly refused. In 2004-5, when people started to recognize me, Saolidi gave me the role of Prakriti in Chandalika. Soon there was a Chandalika show outside Kolkata. I was a bit underprepared that day and on stage I had trouble concentrating. After the show, when I was in the car with Saolidi, she asked me what was up and I told her that I failed as an actor that night. I also confessed that I took the performance too lightly. She said, “If you really understand what was wrong, you will be safe in the future because you will rectify your arrogance. You have to bow down to the character to really play it. It was one of my biggest lessons to date.

Then there was the most special moment of my life, when I got to direct her, my guru, in my first major production, Poshukhamar. I am happy today because I got to know Saolidi so well and so closely.

SAOLI PISHI’S COMPLIMENT AFTER SEEING ME SAUDAGORE NOUKA WAS GREATER THAN ANY AWARD: SUDIPTA CHAKRABORTY

What is the name of Saoli pishi — eminent theatrical personality, renowned theater actress? No adjective is enough to describe it. She is a legend in her field. My father (Biplab Ketan Chakraborty) and Saoli pishi were almost the same age and good friends. So she was a regular at my dad’s theatrical performances and I used to walk around holding her hand. She called me Biplab er chhoto ta. I used to accompany baba to see his stage performances and I still remember his role in Ekti Rajnaitik Hotya and Galileo r Jeeban. But my bible as an actress is her performance in Nathabati Anathabat and Katha Amritasaman. Voice modulation and body language were areas in which she was a master. What I will cherish all my life is what she told me after seeing my performance in Saudagorer Nouka, where I play a woman over 60 years old. She called me to tell me: “Ki obhinoy korechis re tui! Amader Biplab er chhoto ta eto boro hoea gelo”, coming from her, this compliment was more than a reward or a trophy for me.

sudiptaa

SAOLIDI’S VOICE MODULATION AND ACTION TIPS WILL ALWAYS STAY WITH ME: SUJAN MUKHOPADHYAY

Sombhu Mitra and Saolidi regularly visited Baba (Arun Mukhopadhyay) at home. They were also in our rehearsal room for hours, but I was afraid of them because I was only five or six at the time. Not many people know that I was supposed to do a child character in Galileo r Jeeban. But I couldn’t, because I cried a lot after meeting the director. I still regret having missed the chance to share the stage with Saolidi. I watched her first solo performance as Draupadi in Naathvati Anaathbat, which she also wrote and directed. As an actor, I was fascinated. I watched the play at least three or four times. The way she controlled the whole scene was amazing! In 2016, I started acting in Pancham Baidik’s Karubasona. And there, Saolidi taught me the nuances of acting, especially voice modulation, which is very important for any theater actor. She came to rehearsals and taught us how an ordinary scene can be enhanced by acting. His acting tips will forever be etched in my memory. The best part was that she encouraged us a lot.

sujan

I will always treasure the long letter SAOLIDI wrote to me after watching PROTHOM PARTHA: KAUSHIK SEN

My parents were very close to Saolidi’s parents. My father (Shymal Sen) was an examiner when Saolidi was a student at Rabindra Bharati. At that time, radio play was a major form of entertainment. My father and Saolidi voiced many such radio shows. Baba directed Saolidi in a play, Malancha, which Soumitra Chatterjee and Chitra Sen were also part of. I was fascinated watching his solo performance in Nathabati Anathabat. What a performance it was! Saolidi loved the plays I directed. After watching Prothom Partha, she had written me a long letter, which I will cherish for life. What I liked about Saolidi was that her job was to portray what she believed in. She will live on in our hearts through her profession.

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SAOLIDI WAS A BRILLIANT SCHOLAR OF BENGALI THEATER: DEBESH CHATTOPADHYAY

While everyone will remember Saolidi for his contributions to the Bengali theater world, I would also like to highlight his research work. She has done immense research in the field of theater and many of her works are published in book form. It is unfortunate that we as a community are losing interest in reading. But if we read her works, we will find in her a brilliant researcher. While I worked in several Pancham Baidik productions, I never directed it. But I worked with her and was one of the lucky ones who received immense affection from Saolidi.

Debesh


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