Monchosarothi Ataur Rahman: Devoted to Implement Bangabandhu’s Ideology and the Spirit of Liberation War

Hiren Pandit: Ataur Rahman is one of the few people who have developed a drama world in Bangladesh. Since the war of liberation, he has relentlessly refined the theater practice. He is one of the country’s theater directors, critics, actors, poets, essayists, and organizers. The Bangabandhu Adarsha Forum has been working since 2005 to spread the spirit of the liberation war to the generations by capturing the biography of the father of the nation, Bangabandhu, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the architect of great freedom.

The organization has crossed a decade and a half through research, historical and diverse activities. Bangabandhu Adarsh Forum Central Executive Committee President Shamsuzzaman Khan passed away and was replaced by stage manager Ataur Rahman. Badal Chowdhury is serving as general secretary; Joint General Secretary Jannatun Nisa. Members of the Presidium are Prof. AAMS: Arefin Siddique, Prof. Panna Kaiser, Poet Asim Saha, and dramatist Pijush Bandyopadhyay.

Monchosarothi Ataur Rahman, a member of the advisory council of Bangladesh Awami League, is the co-chairman of the cultural affairs sub-committee of Bangladesh Awami League. Drama has played a massive role in developing culture in post-independence Bangladesh. His deep-rooted passion for drama is evident in his belief that it is a complex art form that uncovers truths, often ahead of its time. Drama, he believes, never disappoints, as it has a unique ability to connect with life.

His life’s goal is to find true happiness in working for the joy of the mind rather than working with the hope of getting it. Monchosarothi Ataur Rahman was born on June 18, 1941, at Grandma’s family at Noakhali. Ataur Rahman entered the cultural arena during his school life. His stage lessons started after seeing Rabindranath Tagore’s play ‘Natir Puja.’ He acted in his first stage play along with Abdullah Al Mamun from Shahidullah Hall on the 21st of February when he was a student at Dhaka University in the sixties. Ataur Rahman was nominated as the civic theater community’s general secretary, established in 1968. His theater direction started in 1972 with ‘Buro Shaliker Gare Roo’.

After that, he directed Badal Sarkar’s ‘Baki Itihasa’. Through this, the first drama performance in exchange for visitors started in Bangladesh. After that, he produced numerous plays for his team and other teams. Apart from directing stage plays, Ataur Rahman also acts in Samantal. He is also present on radio and television. Apart from that, Ataur Rahman’s footsteps are in all fields of theater books, theater criticism, presentation, teaching, television dramatist, essayist, orator. In 2001, Ataur Rahman received the Ekushey Padak for his contribution to the field of theatre. Various aspects of individual life and society can be found through entertainment.

The audience finds it on stage. The condition of the stage is much better than before. It is very promising that new plays and new teams are coming. He has worked on stage and television plays in his long career but is also used to writing.

He has published 16 books so far and translated ten foreign dramas. My dear motherland has blessed my life in his words. On the auspicious occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the eve of the 50th anniversary of our independence, Bangabandhu’s daughter, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has blessed our country with the Freedom Award. Note that in 2021, he received the Freedom Award. The history of cultural workers, theater people, and theater workers is mixed with the history of Bangladesh. Their role is unique at various stages of independence. Bangladeshi drama has reached the world standard from zero in the last 53 years.

He thinks that drama is not only entertainment but also a means of mass education. I have done anti-dictatorship and anti-fundamentalist movements through drama. Drama is a mirror of society. Watching a good play makes me feel like a tinker somewhere inside. Art is never understood in its entirety. This gives you a hint. This indication is art. There are moments on the stage during the performance when I feel alive and touching heaven. Even if I die at the moment, nothing will come or go. The Renaissance comes and goes. The renaissance languished during the time of Ishwarchandra Bidyasagar, Bankim. Later came the revival during the time of Rabindranath Tagore. After thirty years in our country, maybe it will slow down.

Then, the renaissance will come again into the hands of the new generation. Drama must acquire professionalism. We are moving in that direction. The government is also wondering whether the people of drama can be given an allowance! There was a time when theater workers did theater as well as work. But now, if television can be a means of livelihood, then why not theater? People are involved in two or three professions at the same time. Many work all day and do other work in the evening. Mixing career with love is a problem. This is only possible in the corporate world. 30-35 years after independence, theater practice peaked.

The people of Calcutta were jealous of our plays. Fifty-three years ago, a wonderful and glorious event occurred in this country at the cost of lakhs of lives. The emergence of an independent and sovereign nation on the world map freed from the clutches of Pakistani colonial rule, whose name is Bangladesh. Looking back now, sometimes I think that the war for our freedom, which we call the liberation war, was not a dream but happened. Our art, literature, and culture have not reflected as much the joys and sorrows of our liberation war and its subsequent independence as they should have.

However, it can be said that several good novels, poems, sculptures, short stories, paintings, and plays have been written based on our liberation war and independence. Applied art mediums, such as theatre, yatra, dance, puppetry, other folk performances, dance, and music, are the major mediums of our freedom struggle and liberation war. The theater is said to be the best product of the liberation war. In independent Bangladesh, the regular performance of drama in exchange for the audience began, and today, it has become a widespread and popular art medium. Drama is taught as a subject in four major government universities in the country. In addition, some private universities have also included drama in the curriculum.

A few private schools are regularly active in the country to teach drama. Although not enough, government and private initiatives have established theater stages in different parts of the country. Several periodicals based on stage plays are published regularly by various individuals and organizations. Daily newspapers periodically provide reports and news with an emphasis on stage plays. Establishing the International Theater Institute is considered a special event in Bangladesh. Bangladesh Group Theater Federation is a significant institution in the country’s drama development field.

Many who have gained fame in acting in various TV channels today are stage-drama aspirants. Stage-drama workers play a significant role in providing necessary technical support and participation in multiple programs on TV channels. The writings of the leading playwrights of Bangladesh have reflected our freedom struggle and liberation war to a considerable extent. Among our significant dramatists, Abdullah Al-Mamun’s plays mainly depict the degradation of the spirit and values of the war of liberation.

Syed Shamsul Haque wrote, ‘The sound of feet is available’ on the liberation war. The drama begins in the context of the liberation war and later the achievement of independence; in these two conflicting situations, he enters the heart of the fundamental question of life. Along with other news, the media should also have dance songs. Maybe classical dance, Manipuri dance, folk song, or modern music. There could be a session of poetry recitation. A debate session should be held on culture, after all. What people accept and what they don’t is up to them. Our Honorable Prime Minister also recognized the generosity of Bengali culture.

The father of the nation would have accepted it. We have to take what is beautiful and good for us abroad. That is why we have converted many foreign dramas into translations. Culture carries the identity of a nation. Today, Bangabandhu’s words are coming again and again. Because he loved Rabindranath. In Karagarer Rojnamcha’s The Prison Diary, he talks about how much he used to study. He used to say that today his mind is not sound, his body is terrible, and he can’t sleep at all; then he used to say that my friend Shahidullah Qaiser’s book ‘Samphtak’ was close at hand to sleep – I read it.
Thus, he read constantly. Wrote three remarkable books—Amar Dekha Noya Chin, Unfinished Autobiography, and The Prison Diary.

Had he had the chance, if he had not spent most of his life in prison, he would have written as many books as Winston Churchill. We often say that Satyajit Ray made ‘Pather Panchali, Apur Sangsar, Aparajita’ in 1956 with a broken camera, but no one can surpass it to date. The man who is doing the work is the greatest. Technology is needed, but technology is not the greatest. People should be created with that in mind. They should teach art, literature, culture and poetry more in schools and colleges.

They should be developed industrially. If patriotism can be invigorated among all, then the art culture will continue like this. Our poetry and literature will continue. Our prime minister is always studying, even writing himself. Many of our ministers are also studying. Among us in the modern age has been Abdullah Al Mamun, a dramatist like Selim Al Deen, and a versatile writer like Syed Shamsul Haque. One thing to remember is that it doesn’t mean that it will be good if you get a chance. Because of human suffering, creation is created. Creation is born from sorrow.

A man writing while sitting in a tank in World War II. Vincent van Gogh, the world’s greatest painter, almost died of starvation. Jibananda Das was killed after being hit by a tram. Poetry is born from grief. Brahma sent Bishwakarma: what will you do with this Nabratna Chanda? I don’t know. Says, I will write Ram’s biography. He does not know about Ram. Rabindranath says, whatever you write is true in the poet’s pen. Art is not created without sorrow and pain.

The writer is an essayist, columnist, and researcher.

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