interview Partha Pratim: A poet of silence***→ Aziz Amirul
It was a jam-packed auditorium at the Alliance Francaise de Dhaka on 9 April, 2011, the launching day of a documentary film on famous Bangladeshi mime artiste Partha Pratim Majumder titled 'Nihshobder Kobi' ('Poet of Silence') by Roktorobi, a production house.
The circumstance at Alliance Francaise was a miniature indication of Partha Pratim's popularity in his homeland similar to his admiration in France where the mime artiste has been residing along with family and continuing his pursuit and practice of the art.
A keen student of music and theatre during his early days, a very humble and polite Partha pays his rich tributes to late AKM Bazlul Karim, a pioneer theatre activist, who was a founder member of Drama Circle.
"The role and patronage of late Bazlul Karim is immense in my grooming up as a stage actor during the post-liberation period", says Partha while recalling his association with Drama Circle back in the early 70s after completion of training at Jogesh Dutta's mime academy in Kolkata.
Partha, nicknamed Bhanu, was born in a well-known family in Pabna, of late Himangshu Kumar Biswas and Sushrika Biswas. He was later on adopted by his close relation, renowned classical musician late Ustad Barin Majumder and Ila Majumder. As a result, he was baptised under the family name of Majumder from Biswas. Partha's original name was Premanshu Kumar Biswas
"In 1979, I got an opportunity to stage my solo performance at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and I could enthrall the audience by my first performance," says Partha.
In 1981, Partha Pratim Majumder won a scholarship from the French Government. He moved to Paris to learn the unique art of corporeal mime from Etienne Decroux, a highly respected nonagenarian mime maestro.
"While learning under Etienne, I got the chance to meet Marcel Marceau, my mentor and guide. Quoting the words of late Marcel Marceau, Partha Pratim says, "Mime is nothing but just to show you how to stand".
The objective of corporeal mime is to place drama inside the moving human body, rather than to substitute gesture for speech as in pantomime.
In corporeal, the mime must apply the principles of physical movement which are at the core of drama. On the contrary, mimodrama action is carried on as elaborate show in silence with simple physical gestures.
Some of Partha's finest mime episodes remain ever-present in viewers' minds which dealt with awareness of child sexual abuse and environmental pollution.
In 1998, a mimodrama was presented in Dhaka while gesturing the struggling real-life stories of the freedom fighters and the nonchalant attitude of the authorities to trial of war criminals.
In 1986, Partha performed "Boatman of Padma" at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
Over the last thirty years, this genius Bangladeshi performer has acted out numerous feats all over Europe, Asia and the United States.
He has won many international titles and awards apart from the Ekushey Padak in 2010 and the Shaheed Munier Chowdhury Padak (highest theatrical honour) in 2009.
As Marcel Marceau once said, "Partha Pratim Majumder, inspired by the millennial art of Bharat Natyam and Kathakali, was attracted by the western art of mimodrama".
Partha Pratim Majumder remains highly motivated by Marceau's ideologies as he attempts to bridge the East with the West with his modern forms of mute artistic theatricals.
During his recent stay in Dhaka, Partha Pratim has done a work with Grameenphone on filtering of adult-based web resources to minors. Grameenphone also pledges to set up a mime academy in Bangladesh to popularise the art form among the next generation.
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