In Female Roles

In the course of my long association with amateur stage, as a hobby and pastime, I appeared mostly in female roles, though as usual I reacted sharply when the role of a woman was first offered to me. The circumstances under which I appeared on the stage in a female character is worth recounting.

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It was in the year 1936. The people of Dacca (now capital of Bangladesh) were according a reception to Sri Sarat Chandra Chatterjee the eminent novelist. The students of Jagannath College proposed to stage ‘Kedar Roy’ on the occasion.

Though co-education was prevalent at that time it was almost impossible to persuade a girl student to appear on the stage. All the girl students were from orthodox families of East Bengal and the prevailing social environment of the country stood as an impediment for girls to appear with the boys on the stage in public.

One day while the professors and students were almost at the point of cancelling the performance of the drama, Sri Ramesh Mukherjee, a very old and renowned dresser and painter of Dacca, who was popularly known as“Jethamahasay” in the town, spotted me out in the group and stated that he could transform me into ‘Ratna’ on the stage and threw a challenge that nobody would be able to detect the trick of his artistry. And so it happened.

To the utter surprise of everybody in the auditorium I passed off as a female with his brilliant make-up and it was impossible to find me in Ratna. For me also it was an exciting experience and looking through the mirror I forgot for once my real identity and spell-bound l fell in love with my own image like the mythological Narcisus.

The function was well attended and among the audience was present through out the drama the renouned novelist Sarat Chandra. I had the rare honour and privilege to receive his appreciation for my acting also.

Political situation compelled me to shift from Dacca to Jamshedpur in 1951. I do not exactly recollect how and when I came in contact with the Millanee, but I am happy and proud that the members here have accepted me in their fold with open mind and heart.

I have participated in a number of dramas staged under the auspices of the Milanee and other clubs and Associations of Jamshedpur. I do not have any fascination for any type of roles. Whatever be the character, the princess or the beggar woman, the maid servant or a widow I have always made earnest endeavour to live up to the character and portray the same with all sincerity.

I had the previlege of acting with the renouned actors like Sri Sabitabrata Dutta, Sri Kanu Bandhopadhya and Late Kali Sarkar.

I feel now is the time to take leave from acting, but I get so much pleasure and happiness in appearing on the stage that I can seldom resist my urge on the face of persistent requests of my friends and colleagues. I now appear, whenever called to the stage, in male roles and have uptil now successfully depicted the roles of the prince or the pauper, the baboo or the servant, the saint or the shrewd to the best of my ability. With the new dimensions in dramatic art and personae the system of males appearing in female roles is no longer in vogue and has gone out of date.

Written by N. C. Das and published in the Diamond Jubilee Souvenir, 1974.