The state’s distinguished dramatist, director, actor, lyricist Hemanta Dutta was conferred with the title of ‘Natyasindhu’ in a function held at Chopai in Mangaldoi recently. The programme, jointly organised by Chopai Yuva Kalyan Kendra, Chopai Sahitya Sabha, Chopai Padumpahi Moina Parijat, Chopai Theatre Directing Committee, Chopai Regional Rongali Bihu Sanmilan and Chopai Sarbajanin Saradiya Shri Shri Durga Puja Udjapan Committee took place at the auditorium of Chopai Yuva Kalyan Kendra, attended by people from all walks of life.
The veteran artiste was presented with a phulam gamocha, a sarai, memento, a japi, a citation, and a bundle carrying books among other gifts by Mahendra Deka, Ramesh Saharia, Lakshmikanta Sarma and Hasinur Hussain, on behalf of the presiding committee. On the occasion, Dutta was also warmly felicitated by several other organizations. The sombre, yet lively function supervised by Ramani Mohan Sarma and hosted by senior journalist Ganesh Dutta commenced with the performance of a melodious Borgeet under the direction of artiste Rijumani Deka.
Despite a long and prolific career, during which time he was conferred with various accolades by associations from various parts of the state and even outside, Hemanta Dutta never felt more thrilled and gratified than being honoured at his own homeland. “It’s an incomparable feeling to get such recognition in my homeland. I offer my heart-felt thanks and gratitude to the organisers for the honour bestowed on me by the people of Sopai”, an emotionally charged Dutta said on receiving the award. It was his undying love and addiction for drama that compelled him to quit his secured government job at the Directorate of Cultural Affairs not once but twice. During his speech, the veteran artiste recalled a number of wonderful moments from his past, some rarely heard, keeping the audience rapt throughout.
It was one of his life’s most memorable moments, while studying in Class-lll, when an opportunity to enact the role of an ailing Lachit Borphukan fell into his hands after his school mate Bimal Kotoky took ill. He was a little scared in the beginning but his performance won everyone’s hearts and he was even adjudged the ‘best actor’ award. While in class VIII, Dutta penned his first one-act play ‘Samaptir Jer Chanda Milil’, which won seven awards, including the award for ‘best play’ at the inter-school drama competition held at the then Mangaldoi, Nagaon and Tezpur sub-district level. He won the ‘best actor’, ‘best director’ and ‘best dramatist’ awards for three consecutive years while studying in Dibrugarh’s Kanoi College. It became extremely difficult for him to imagine his life without theatre then.
Hemanta Dutta is a force to be reckoned with in the field of mobile theatre. A versatile artiste in the truest sense, Dutta rendered his services as an actor, director, dramatist and lyricist. A fundamental feature of his artistry is his outmost mastery over the technical aspects, right from stage lighting, set designing, make-up, props and costumes, to music and sound effects, art direction and the movement of the artistes that remain a hallmark of his stagecraft. An inspirational leader for many young and aspiring theatre artistes and dramatists, Hemanta Dutta is credited with writing a prolific number of plays on a variety of themes, tackling a wide array of issues confronting humanity, which continue to be an inspiration to many. The range, depth and vitality of his talents make him quite an asset for any theatre party. He has set a new benchmark as a commercial theatre playwright with plays like the Mahabharat (Kahinoor Theatre), the Ramayan (Kahinoor), Madbhagawat (Awahan Theatre), Nabin Mastor (Debadasi Theatre), Laaz (Sankardev Theatre), Raj Sanyashi (Sankardev), Daag (Kahinoor), Hiyar Epahi Gulap (Kahinoor), Hendur (Kahinoor), Jui (Kahinoor), Paap (Kahinoor), Mukti (Kahinoor), Titanic (Kahinoor), etc. ‘Titanic’, based on the Hollywood blockbuster, took the mobile theatre world by storm, becoming one of the most successful plays ever. He has written plays for various theatre troupes, but Dutta feels happy working with Kahinoor Theatre, which has been like a home to him as an actor, a director and a dramatist since the late Seventies, and the association still endures.
Hemanta Dutta made his filmmaking debut with ‘Upapath’ in 1980. The movie, produced by Pramod Barua under the banner of Bishnu Jyoti Samabay, starring artistes like Biju Phukan, Pranjal Saikia, Mridula Barua, Abdul Mazid, Bhabesh Barua, Pramod Barua, Chetana Das, Hira Talukdar, Hiren Choudhury and Dutta himself, did quite well at the box-office. Music director Jayanta Hazarika’s untimely demise led to some of the film’s compositions being completed by his wife Manisha Hazarika. Dutta also produced and directed a film called ‘Prahari’, which ran into financial difficulties and is yet to see the light of day.
Besides writing and acting in plays and films, this 74-year-old artiste has also contributed significantly as a lyricist, with well over 500 songs to his credit. He started his lyrical journey with the movie ‘Natun Asha’ in 1977. The film is packed with evergreen hits, including ‘Ei Akash Bor Bishal’. His movies as a lyricist include ‘Sadori’, ‘Sonmoina’, ‘Jibon Surabhi’, ‘Bohagor Duporiya’, ‘Sewali’, ‘Mon Mondir’, ‘Iman Morom Kiyo Lage’, ‘Ei Morom Tumar Babe’, ‘Hiya Diya Niya’, ‘Nayak’ etc. Some of his other popular compositions are ‘Moi Ji Batere Ulalu Aji’, ‘Gose Bone Seujiya’, ‘Bohag Bohag Buli’, ‘Matise Nupure’, ‘Moi Eti Mukoli Pokhi’, etc. His song in the film ‘Pita Putra’ – ‘Bondho Koribo Haat, Bondho Koribo Maat’ contained 116 lines and is considered as the longest lyric in Assamese music. He has also contributed to various newspapers and magazines as a cine-journalist.
Dutta is currently busy penning a new play for Chiranjeev Theatre – ‘Jetuka Pator Rong’ which is based on his only daughter Akangshita Dutta, who passed away this year. He is also writing a play titled ‘Janowar’ for Kohinoor Theatre.