A career spanning only 12 years and performances in about 80 plays were enough for Kolkata’s theatre buffs to fondly call her the Moon of Star Theatre.
It’s still a mystery to a lot of researchers why she quit the stage at the age of 24, especially at a time when she was enjoying being at the height of fame.
Whatever be the reason, 72 years since her death, Noti Binodini still lives on!
This September, a fourwheeler decorated as a chariot - named Binodini Rath - would travel across the city to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Binodini Dasi or Noti Binodini, the 19th century thespian who was born into prostitution but became one of the first south Asian actresses to write an autobiography.
“We’ll start the programme on September 1 with a rally from 145, Lord Cornwallis Street, the house near Star Theatre where Noti Binodini used to live. The rally would end at the residence of Girish Chandra Ghosh,” Jyoti Mukherjee of Binodini Natyacharcha, a platform of theatre lovers, said. The chariot would have a large screen at its rear.
A 35-minute documentary on the actress would be shown on that screen.
Born in 1862, Binodini grew under the tutelage of Girish Chandra Ghosh and appeared in her first performance at the age of 12.
She became such a name in the proscenium theatre form of the European genre that European theatre lovers would call her ‘the flower of native stages’.
Even Ramkrishna Paramhansa went to see her acting at the National Theatre in 1884.
Organisers of the programme also want to use this occasion to spread awareness about theatres being performed at various corners of Kolkata as well as in other parts of the state.
The screen on the chariot would not only run the documentary but would also inform people about important plays being performed or to be performed in the state around this time.
“We want to celebrate modern theatre on the occasion of this icon’s 150th birth anniversary. That is the best way to pay tributes to her. We expect senior theatre personalities such as Manoj Mitra and Bibhas Chakraborty to be present at the programme,” Mukherjee said.
The chariot would be on the roads on every Sunday this September.
The documentary would be screened at places like in front of the Academy of Fine Arts and Madhusudan Mancha.
Though little is written about Binodini in the chronicles of 19th century theatre movement in Kolkata, National School of Drama staged a play based on her autobiography, Amaar Kathaa.
Noted actress Seema Biswas played the role of Binodini.