Sept 16, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): Parthapratim Deb, theatre actor and musician, started his theater journey with Nandikar in 1986. Apart from being an actor and music director and associate in many plays inside and outside Nandikar, Deb has also been teaching acting. He has worked as a trainer of Nandikar’s Annual Theatre In Educatoin Program (since 1989), Nandikar’s Youth Theatre Training Program (since 1995).
In Nandikar’s In Search Of Children Project (1992 -1998) for under-privileged and Handicapped Children’, Deb was a trainer and research associate. Deb also teaches acting in some of the renowned schools in Kolkata.
The talented actor, who is also one of the lead singers in Nandikar, talks about his mentor and teacher- theatre maestro Rudraprasad Sengupta, his journey, struggle, inspirations and more. Read the exclusive interview at CalcuttaTube.
CalcuttaTube: You are with Nandikar since 1986 and have been associated with many important productions. We still do not know much about you as an actor. Why is that?
Parthapratim Deb: Even though I joined Nandikar in 1986, I established myself more or less as an actor in 2000 when I did the play Football in Hindi. The Bengali version was staged in 2002. In all these years I have not acted much; most of the time I was a substitute actor or did cameos. But I always played an important role at the backstage.
In 1988, in the play ‘Shesh Shakshatkar’(Dozortsev’s Last Appointment) was staged. The play had five main characters. I played one of them. The role was a small one, of limited time duration. In theater, nothing is ‘small’. But in all these years, I did not get any major roles.
In 1992, I did ‘Sankhapurer Sukanya’ (Brecht’s Good Person Of Szechwan) where I did only one dialogue. There was a musical in the play, though the play itself was not a musical, and I had some importance there with the musical parts. In ‘Antigone’ I was again a substitute actor.
But in the big cast plays like ‘Ferioalar Mrityu’ (Miller’s Death Of A Salesman), ‘Gotraheen’(Miller’s View From The Bridge), ‘Nagar Keertan’ (Koushik Roy Chowdhury) unfortunately I was not there on stage.
CalcuttaTube: Any regrets about it?
Parthapratim Deb: I thank Swatilekha Sengupta for offering me a role in Football in 2000. It was a small one but very interesting. It is an actor’s expertise that makes a role good or bad. Sometimes a good role can be spoiled with bad acting or a not-so good role turned in to an interesting one. I don’t know which chemistry worked for me in Football. But people appreciated my work and the play took a turn with that character.
Then I did ‘Jaha Chai’ with collaboration with Harvard University. I again played a cameo but extremely important role which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Then came ‘Nana Ranger Din’ (Anton Chekhov’s Swan Song). This was previously done by Ajitesh Bandopadhyay. In 2006, Rudraprasad Sengupta staged it. He and I played the only two characters of the play. It was an extreme turning point.
CalcuttaTube: Please share your experience with Rudraprasad Sengupta in ‘Nana Ranger Din’.
Parthapratim Deb: My experience was tremendous. I was also nervous. Though I spent a prime time in Nandikar, I have not been an actor all the time, at least not very prominently. So when in ‘Nana Ranger Din’ I got to act with Rudra babu, it meant a lot to me. We had a premiere show at the Banga Sammelan in Detroit. It was a great experience for me as an actor and also one of the most important things in my life. This event filled me up with confidence.
Then I worked in Swati di’s ‘Natun Chhele Natabar’ (Leela Majumdar) with young actors. It was another rewarding experience.I got offers from other theatre groups and started freelancing. I worked in plays like Padmanadir Majhi (produced by Pratikriti, directed by Alok Deb), ‘Palashi’ (produced by Natadha) and Bibhas Chakraborty’s ‘Jochhana Kumari’ (Anya Theater production). In the ‘Jochhana Kumari’ I also did the music.
CalcuttaTube: You are a member of Nandikar for so long and you have also freelanced with other theatre groups. What is comparative picture?
Parthapratim Deb: You know this is more than just theatre or a group. Nandikar has been with me just like my family. Even when I got married, my father could not reach in time. Sir (Rudraprasad Sengupta) was with me and as we were running out of auspicious moments, he came forward and performed all the wedding rituals on behalf of my father. He is my second father. He has contributed a lot to my thoughts, views, and mental formation.
I would not have been what I am today if I had not met him. I have treaded a long path with him and his inspiration has changed not only my career, but also my entire life. I have learnt a lot of my moral values, dutifulness from him.
Rudraprasad Sengupta is not only a theatre personality. He is a philosophy of life. He is not my guide of theatre, but also of life itself. He is a man of such a stature whose footsteps you can follow in life. The way he has performed all his duties towards theatre and life, is amazing and beyond imagination.
CalcuttaTube: With your music background, why did you become an actor and not a singer?
Parthapratim Deb: It is very difficult to explain. I think I know notes, numbers better than songs, music. If you tell me to perform there are only a couple of ragas on which I can perform. When I sing, it is my emotions that create music. I do not think I still understand everything about classical music and ragas. Even when I sing the classical pieces in Chandrkaus, Gara or Yaman in a play, I think it is my emotions about the drama that make me sing.
CalcuttaTube: Please share something more about your music. How do you practice?
Parthapratim Deb: Both my wife Rupa and I are singers. So we have to sing on and off all the time. But we have to careful about not making too much noise as we live in a small apartment and neighbors may gets disturbed. Also my son is in seventh grade and he needs some peace and quiet to study. This kind puts some kind of limitations on our practice.
I have however found a very effective way of to circumvent this. When I take my son for his swimming lessons, which lasts about forty minutes or so, I go to a nearby spot and sing and walk continuously till his class gets over. This is in the morning. At night, when I get back home, I start humming once I get onto the street in my neighborhood. Not many people walk there. So it is a good place for me to sing.
CalcuttaTube: You teach acting. Do you teach music too?
Parthapratim Deb: I have never been able to complete my own education in music. Who would I teach! I don’t think I am worthy of that.
Photos:Shrabanti Basu / Parthapratim Deb
Videos: Shrabanti Basu