An armoured car on the road to Proletarian Revolution
interview with Utpal Dutt by Malini Bhattacharya and Mihir Bhattacharya
Utpal Dutt is among the foremost theatre personalities today not only in West Bengal, but also in India. His opinions may* often be controversial, but his lively explorations of the situation in Indian political theatre, coming as they do from an eminent practitioner who has held his audience for over 30 years, will no doubt be useful for left-wing theatre workers everywhere. The interview was conducted at Duffs Calcutta home
Malini Bhattacharya: Could we start by asking you about your connection with the old IPTA and about your brush with radical politics; how you came into it all and what kind of influence it had on you ?
Utpal Dutt: I was in the IPTA for exactly eight months. Therefore, that cannot really be counted. However, during those eight months I was profoundly influenced; there is no doubt about that But I am not as such an IPTA product, as so many others are. I came into theatre before I joined the IPTA. I had already had six years of theatre before I was briefly associated with the IPTA in 1951, when I directed two plays for the central Calcutta squad.
Mihir Bhattacharya : And these two plays were... ?
UD : One was Rabindranath's Bisarjan and the other was Officer, an adaptation by Ritwik Ghatak of Gogol's Inspector-General. That was all. In the IPTA we introduced the street-corner play during the 1952 elections. And before that, in 1951, during the bandimukti andolan (movement for the release of political prisoners), we organised street-corner plays—that was the first time.
Journal of Arts and Ideas 25