Sombhu Mitra

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Sombhu Mitra
Born(1915-08-22)22 August 1915
Died19 May 1997(1997-05-19) (aged 81)
OccupationActor, director, playwright
Spouse(s) Tripti Mitra
Children Shaoli Mitra
Awards Padma Bhushan in 1970

Sombhu Mitra (22 August 1915 – 19 May 1997) was an Indian film and stage actor, director, playwright, reciter and an Indian theatre personality, known especially for his involvement in Bengali theatre, where he is considered a pioneer. He remained associated with the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) for a few years before founding the Bohurupee theatre group in Kolkata in 1948. He is most noted for films like Dharti Ke Lal (1946), Jagte Raho (1956), and his production of Rakta Karabi based on Rabindranath Tagore's play in 1954 and Chand Baniker Pala, his most noted play as a playwright. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Bengali theatre

Bengali theatre primarily refers to theatre performed in the Bengali language. Bengali theatre is produced mainly in West Bengal, and in Bangladesh. The term may also refer to some Hindi theatres which are accepted by the Bengali people.

Indian Peoples Theatre Association theatre company

Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) is the oldest association of theatre-artists in India. IPTA was formed in 1943 pre independence India, during which it promoted themes related to the Indian freedom struggle. Its goal was to bring cultural awakening among the people of India. It is the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India.

Dharti Ke Lal is a 1946 Hindi-Urdu film, the first directorial venture of the noted film director Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. It was jointly written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Bijon Bhattacharya, based on plays by Bhattacharya and the story Annadata by Krishan Chander. The film had music by Ravi Shankar, with lyrics by Ali Sardar Jafri and Prem Dhawan.


In 1966, the Sangeet Natak Akademi awarded him with its highest award, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution, then in 1970, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, [6] and in 1976 the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

Sangeet Natak Akademi organization

Sangeet Natak Akademi is the national level academy for performing arts set up by the Government of India.

The Padma Bhushan is the third-highest civilian award in the Republic of India, preceded by the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan and followed by the Padma Shri. Instituted on 2 January 1954, the award is given for "distinguished service of a high order...without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex." The award criteria include "service in any field including service rendered by Government servants" including doctors and scientists, but exclude those working with the public sector undertakings. As of 2019, the award has been bestowed on 1254 individuals, including twenty-one posthumous and ninety-six non-citizen recipients.

Ramon Magsaysay Award award

The Ramon Magsaysay Award is an annual award established to perpetuate former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay's example of integrity in governance, courageous service to the people, and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society. The prize was established in April 1957 by the trustees of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund based in New York City with the concurrence of the Philippine government. The award is internationally-recognized as Asia's Nobel Prize counterpart and is the highest award given to Asian individuals and organizations.

Early life and education

Born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, on 22 August 1915, Sombhu Mitra was the sixth child of three sons and four daughters born of Sarat Kumar Mitra, an employee of the Geological Survey of India, and Satadalbasini Mitra. His mother died when he was 12 years old. [7]

Kolkata Capital city of West Bengal, India

Kolkatakol-KUT is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River approximately 75 kilometres (47 mi) west of the border with Bangladesh, it is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of Kolkata is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. The city is widely regarded as the "cultural capital" of India, and is also nicknamed the "City of Joy". According to the 2011 Indian census, it is the seventh most populous city; the city had a population of 4.5 million, while the suburb population brought the total to 14.1 million, making it the third-most populous metropolitan area in India. Recent estimates of Kolkata Metropolitan Area's economy have ranged from $60 to $150 billion making it third most-productive metropolitan area in India, after Mumbai and Delhi.

He started his schooling in Chakraberia Middle English School, Calcutta and later continued in the Ballygunge Government High School, Calcutta, where he developed interest reading Bengali plays and became active in school dramatics. He joined St. Xavier's College at the University of Calcutta in 1931, and soon started attending the local theatre. [7]

Ballygunge Government High School school in Kolkata, India

Ballygunge Government High School, or BGHS, is a school in West Bengal, India. This is a boys only school for secondary and higher secondary level students. Its medium of instruction is English. It was once considered one of the best Bengali medium schools in Kolkata and continues to be a good one. The campus includes a fairly large play-ground and the school offers variety of extracurricular activities for its students. The school has produced many well known academics, film and theater personalities, journalist and musicians. Currently, there are over 1200 students enrolled at this school. The school is adjacent to Kolkata Regional Transport Office (RTO)/Ballygunge police station and Kolkata Motor Vehicles Department

University of Calcutta public state university in Kolkata, West Bengal

The University of Calcutta is a collegiate public state university located in Kolkata, West Bengal, India established on 24 January 1857. It was the first institution in Asia to be established as a multidisciplinary and secular Western-style university.


His first appearance in Bengali theatre was in Rangmahal Theatre in north Kolkata in 1939, thereafter he moved to the Minerva, Natyaniketan and Srirangam theatres.

In 1943, he joined Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA). In 1944, several old theatrical conventions were broken when the play Nabanna written by Bijon Bhattacharya and co-directed by Sombhu Mitra for IPTA was staged. In 1948, Sombhu Mitra formed a new theatre group, Bohurupee in Kolkata, which ushered the group-theatre movement in West Bengal.

Bijon Bhattacharya Indian actor

Bijon Bhattacharya was a prominent Indian theatre and film personality from Bengal.


Bohurupee is a Bengali premier theatre group. Bohurupee was founded in 1948 by several active members who left the Indian People's Theatre Association. The group was created to present the experimental Bengali drama in unusual form.

West Bengal State in Eastern India

West Bengal is an Indian state located in the eastern region of the country along the Bay of Bengal. With over 91 million inhabitants, it is India's fourth-most populous state. West Bengal is the fourteenth-largest Indian state, with an area of 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi). A part of the ethno-linguistic Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, it borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. It also borders the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam. The state capital is Kolkata (Calcutta), the seventh-largest city in India, and center of the third-largest metropolitan area in the country. As for geography, West Bengal includes the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, the Ganges delta, the Rarh region, and the coastal Sundarbans. The main ethnic group are the Bengalis, with Bengali Hindus forming the demographic majority.

He married Tripti Mitra née Bhaduri, who was also a celebrated personality in the Bengali theatre. Their daughter, Shaoli is a noted actress, director and playwright. [8] [9]

The Bohurupee productions

Under Sombhu Mitra's direction, the Bohurupee staged several successful productions. In December 1950, the Bohurupee presented three plays in the New Empire theatre Tulsi Lahiri's Pathik and Chenda Tar and Sombhu Mitra's own creation, Ulukhagra . In 1954, Rabindranath Tagore's Rakta Karabi was staged by the Bohurupee, followed by his Bisarjan , Raja and Char Adhyay . Other notable productions include Bidhyak Bhattacharya's Tahar Namti Ranjana and Kanchanranga . Under his direction, this group also presented the Bengali adaptations of several well-known dramas from the world stage. Henrik Ibsen's Putul Khela (Doll's House), Dashachakra (An Enemy of the People) and Sophocles' Raja Oidipaus (Oedipus Rex) are notable amongst them.

He has also acted in The Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht directed by Fritz Bennewitz in the title role. [10]

In these productions he performed as Rahimuddin in Chenda Tar, Atin in Char Adhyay, Binod in Ulukhagra, Tapan in Putul Khela, Dr. Purnendu Guha in Dashachakra, Oidipaus in Raja Oidipaus.

He died in Kolkata.


Sombhu Mitra performed in several movies in Bengali and Hindi. The notable among them are:

He wrote the story and screenplay of Jagte Raho (1956) and also co-directed it along with Amit Maitra. He also directed a Bengali movie, Shubha Bibaha in 1959.

Major works

Honours and awards

Sombhu Mitra received many national and international awards, which include the Crystal Globe for Jagte Raho at the 1957 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the Desikottama from Visva Bharati University in 1989, [11] an honorary D. Litt from both Rabindra Bharati University and Jadavpur University in Kolkata, the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1976 [12] for journalism, literature and creative communication arts and the Padmabhushan in the same year. He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1966. For his contribution in the movies, he won the Grand-Prix Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Madhya Pradesh Government honoured him with Kalidas Samman (1982–83). [13]

National Film Awards

See also


  1. Chand Baniker Pala :Shombhu Mitra Interterxt: a study of the dialogue between texts, by R.Kundu, Rama Kundu Ghosh. Published by Sarup & Sons, 2008. ISBN   81-7625-830-X. Page 277-78
  2. History of Indian Literature : [2].1911–1956, struggle for freedom : triumph and tragedy, by Sisir Kumar Das, various. Published by Sahitya Akademi, 1995. ISBN   81-7201-798-7. Page 163.
  3. Shombhu Mitra Authors speak, by Sachidananda. Published by Sahitya Akademi, 2006. ISBN   81-260-1945-X. Page 277-289.
  4. Shombhu Mitra Pop culture India!: media, arts, and lifestyle, by Asha Kasbekar. Published by ABC-CLIO, 2006. ISBN   1-85109-636-1. .
  5. Shobhu Mitra Not the other avant-garde: the transnational foundations of avant-garde performance, by James Martin Harding, John Rouse. University of Michigan Press, 2006. ISBN   0-472-06931-4. Page 203-205.
  6. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  7. 1 2 Biography of Sombhu Mitra The 1976 Ramon Magsaysay Award website.
  8. Sombhu Mitra CPI, Index August 1997.
  9. A thespian who touched dizzy heights Indian Express, 20 May 1997.
  10. Calcutta, Life. "Life of Galileo in Calcutta". Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  11. List of Desikottamas Archived 15 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Ramon Magsaysay Award citation for Sombhu Mitra
  13. A thespian who touched dizzy heights Indian Express, 20 May 1997
  14. "4th National Film Awards" (PDF). Directorate of Film Festivals . Retrieved 2 September 2011.

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