BHUBANESWAR: Theatre in Odisha would never be the same again. Its lone crusader is no more.
The man who brought in new genres and concepts to the theatre scene and put Cuttack on the global theatre map, eminent dramatist and organiser Kartik Chandra Rath passed away on Monday following a heart attack. He was 70 and is survived by wife, a son and two daughters.
Rath single-handedly organised one of the biggest theatre festivals in the world - India Theatre Olympiad - in Cuttack for the last two decades. The Olympiad came to become a prestigious feature in the world amateur theatre calendar. Every autumn, Cuttack transformed into a throbbing theatre stage with scores of international theatre groups from all over the world and over a hundred groups from the country converging in the city to perform at the festival.
Rath’s contribution to theatre, classical and folk arts is invaluable. He introduced pioneering innovations in Odia drama as far as direction, script and stagecraft is concerned. He also popularised Odia language drama on national and international stages. He is credited to have directed over 70 plays that have been showcased in various parts of the country.Born in 1949, Rath started young in life. He began acting in Odia dramas during his school days and wrote his first play ‘Ei Desha, Ei Maati’ in 1963.
His passion for theatre got a boost when his drama ‘Jibana Yajna’ won the best play award at the All India Drama Competition in the 70s. There was no looking back since. With a mission to popularise Odia theatre in the country, he formed Utkal Yuva Sanskrutika Sangh in Cuttack which took part in theatre fests across the country.
An Economics professor at Netaji Subhash Memorial City College, he came to limelight with his play ‘Mansara Phula’ which fetched him 17 awards in 1978. The play was an absurd drama.Recipient of prestigious awards like Kendriya Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Odisha Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Odisha Sahitya Akademi Award, many of Rath’s plays would run houseful for over 100 days in theatres. Members of the theatre fraternity mourned his death. His mortal remains were consigned to flames in Puri.