The dimmed light of the stage and mellow sitar paves way for the magical transformation of an actor from a man to an animal ~ Rudraprasad Sengupta to a horse. That is Nandikar for you. And on its completion of 40 years, Nandikar has just got better. With its recent production, Madhabi, still running in fully packed theatres, Rudraprasad had risen from a juvenile member of the group to a figure that can only be compared with the legendary Yayati (Maharishi Yayati and a character of the play Madhabi). Nandikar was born on 29 June 1960 when Ajitesh Bandopadhyay and Asit Bandopadhyay along with a group of young actors broke away and formed the group. This group consisted of Ajoy Ganguly, Satyan Mitra, Dipen Sengupta, later joined by Keya Chakravorty, Bibhas Chakravorty, and Rudraprasad Sengupta. Later, Rudraprasad was handed over the reigns of the group.
A colleague and a frequenter to theatres once said that never in her life had she seen people begging for tickets of a play staged by any city theatre group in the recent times except Nandikar.
Innumerable people who had been denied a ticket since the theatre in Academy of Fine Arts was already flooded were waiting near the gate. It was still 15 minutes left for the play to begin and the colleague though of having a fag. Near the Academy gate she was approached by a middle-aged man with his family who said: “Do you have an extra ticket? If you are unable to attend the play because of some problem, please give us the ticket we will pay double the amount.”

Nandikar’s National Theatre Festivals and Children Ensemble showcases not only the best of plays in Bengali but brings groups from different part of India and also from Sweden, Pakistan, Bangladesh and France.
No matter how Sohini and Swatilekha Sengupta chip in to the efforts, when it’s a play by Nandikar, audiences can’t help but wait for Rudraprasad to appear on the stage again and again. But, that has become rare now. Even after several feats, Nandikar has certainly a long way to go.


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