Turna Das-actor and National Scholar on Bengali Theatre and acting career (Interview)

Theatre Actor Turna Das
Theatre Actor Turna Das

Oct 3, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): Turna Das is a promising actor of the Bengali theatre. She started her journey in theatre at a very tender age. Later she joined the drama department at the Rabindra Bharati University where she stood 1st class first in both Bachelors and Masters.

Turna has also been awarded with the National Scholarship by Department of Culture, Govt. of India (2006 – 2008) as young artiste. The talented actress has been felicitated with several prestigious awards and accolades for acting and mime including the Sayak Puraskar for acting in 2009.

Turna shares her journey as an actress and student of theatre, her thoughts and future plans with CalcuttaTube in this intimate, exclusive interview.

Turna with actor Anindya Banerjee
Turna with actor Anindya Banerjee

Turna Das: Ever since I was child, I have attended different theatre workshops and summer camps for kids where I was exposed to this art. In those days I came across Padmashree Niranjan Goswami. At that age it was simply fun. There was not much seriousness about it. But all these contributed to my development as an actor.

I was still very young, when I went to Jayati Bose for further workshops where actor Anindya Banerjee too was my teacher. Then as I grew up, I was lucky enough not to be detached from all these. Besides, my regular studies, I did all these co-curricular activities.

I did not have a family background in theatre. But my parents were always very encouraging in cultural activities. That is the reason they also took to music and dance classes. I also took mime classes. But that was much later.

Right after my secondary exams, I joined the group theatreEkush Shatak’ where under Loknath Bandopadhyay’s direction I did the play ‘Bharshamyo’. Then after my 12th grade exams, I went to study theatre at the Rabindra Bharati University. Adhir Bose, of Ekush Shatak is our family friend and has always guided me with theatre.

Turna with Koushik Sen
Turna with Koushik Sen

CalcuttaTube: You have done you Bachelors and Masters in Theatre. So, any plans of further studies?

Turna Das: Yes, I do want to. Though, nothing is final right now.

CalcuttaTube: Please share your experience on your schooling in Rabindra Bharati.

Turna Das: Every year a lot of bright students take admission at Rabindra  Bharati. They have a lot of love and passion for theatre. But the overall structure of theatre is not that strong all over the country. It is my earnest request to my seniors that they look into the matter even more seriously so that the future students feel more enthusiastic about their education in this performing art.

CalcuttaTube: So how much did your education in Rabindra Bharati help you?

Turna Das: For me it was an absolute help because I am a first generation actor. But people with theatre backgrounds have not been much benefited from their schooling there. I think this situation can be much improved with help from seniors. People outside our state have a very deep respect for Rabindra Bharati and our theatre heritage. The students of theatre here have a lot of talent too. We have some quite some resources, though they are all not very advanced. But overall we have better ideas about stage and theatre oriented things. So, if this whole structure here can be improved, it would help us all.

CalcuttaTube: Most of the theatre actors work in television. You do not. You are among those exceptional ones. Why is that?

Turna Das: There is nothing exceptional about it. These days many young passionate theatre actors are being able to survive just by working in theatre. It is nothing impossible. Also, till now I have not got good roles in TV. So I am doing just theatre. And I am happy that way.

CalcuttaTube: So why did you not like working in TV serials? It is acting after all.

Turna Das: Yes it is. But somehow I did not like it too much. Their infrastructure and pattern of work is totally different which did not suit me much for the time being. But it does not mean that I am not open to TV soaps. I would go back whenever I feel like or get a nice offer.

CalcuttaTube: What about direction?

Turna Das: No. I do not think I am worthy of that, at least not now. Later, when I experienced enough I may think about it.

CalcuttaTube: You took training in vocal. Have you worked particularly with ‘Natoker Gaan’?

Turna Das: No. All my music training was simply to enhance me as actor. It has been the same way with all my other co-curriculum. Mime helped me a lot in theatre. Similarly, my dance training helped me with my body fitness. It provided me with the right kind of balance one needs to have to stand on the stage properly.

CalcuttaTube: You have worked with so many theatre stalwarts. They all have their own style of work. How does it influence you and your mannerism?

Turna Das: I think mannerism is something that every actor has more or less. The more genius an actor is, the less they are trapped in some particular mannerism. I am extremely fortunate to have worked with so many stalwarts like Niranjan Goswami, Sohag Sen, Arun Mukhaopadhyay. They all have their very own disciplines.  When I start working with someone, there is always an initial phase of difficulty. But after a week or so I get accustomed with their ways. They are all such great directors! They always make me understand what exactly they want from me.

Working with different directors has made me more versatile. I do not belong to any particular school of acting. I realize this all the time. I can even feel that I have certain components of acting that I have acquired from certain directors.

I have also worked with Suman Mukhaopadhyay, Usha Ganguly, Sangramjit Sengupta, Biplab Bandopadhyay and have learnt a lot from them too.

CalcuttaTube: So how strictly do you have to follow a director?

Turna Das: I personally believe that an actor is a director’s tool. As an actor, all my obligations are towards my directors. My primary job is to satisfy them. I think about my directors’ demand much more than my audiences’. I always try my best to bring out exactly what my director wants.

CalcuttaTube: Any particular memories working with Sohag Sen, Dwijen Banerjee, Arun Mukhopadhya or others that you would like to share with us?

Turna Das: I have lots and lots of memories of ‘Dwijen sir’. He was my professor at college. I once had the opportunity to work with him. His lectures as a teacher were lifetime assets for us. They are so unique. But as a friend, he is simply awesome. When we were working with him on a project, he would cheer us all and give us energy all the time so that we can feel relaxed on stage. I feel kind of shy around ‘Arun sir’ and ‘Sohag di’. I am more in awe of them.

Actually I am much more free when I am around folks closer to my age than my seniors.

-Shrabanti Basu

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