Bangla Natyakosh Parisad

Bengali Language Initiative

Grant Period: Over two years

Kamal Saha, a theatre enthusiast and collector, was given an IFA grant under the Bengali Language Initiative to document and prepare a manuscript of an encyclopaedia on the history of Bengali theatre from 1795 to 2008. This grant enables Bangla Natyakosh Parishad to create an Internet archive and publish the encyclopaedia on Bengali theatre.

The entries in the encyclopaedia range from West Bengal and Bangladesh and have been collated using reviews, articles from daily newspapers, leaflets and brochures. This two-volume encyclopaedia will be further categorized into four sections: a) The first section lists various people involved in theatre like playwrights, directors and technicians and is segregated into Bengali, non-Bengali and non-Indian theatre artists. b) The second section has a comprehensive list of 2,500 plays performed from 1795 to date. It gives details of the cast and crew, date and location of the premiere, synopsis and reviews of the production. c) The third section provides lists and details of production companies and theatre groups. d) The fourth and final section is a miscellaneous collection of anecdotes, a list of screen adaptations of Bengali plays, pen names of playwrights and other theatre-related ephemera.

The final section also contains definitions of over 1,000 theatre-related words compiled after referencing several dictionaries, encyclopaedia, theatre commentaries and theoretical essays. The anecdotal sub-section has stories about fallouts between theatre groups, fan mail to theatre starts, backstage mishaps, and details of competitions and awards.

Each volume of the encyclopaedia will be approximately 600 pages. In addition to the encyclopaedia, a CD with photographs, advertisements of performances, theatre company logos and reviews will be created and distributed. Mr Saha will design and create an online archive of Bengali theatre to reach a much wider range of people: theatre practitioners, scholars and students across the world.

Bangla Natyakosh Parisad will publish the encyclopaedia and Mr Saha hopes that it will be disseminated across Universities and state libraries, students, researchers and theatre groups in West Bengal.