Badal Das: Lighting up the actors with narrative logic and finer craft

Posted by Kaahon Desk On February 21, 2017

At this moment, Badal Das is among the most recognizable names and the seasoned light personnel in Bengali Theatre. Over a career spanning well over four decades, Badal Das is among the handful who had witnessed the qualitative zenith of Bengali Theatre and its progression over the years with its fair share of highs and lows. His beginnings can be traced back to his early days in the 1970s, first as an apprentice and then as an individual technical personnel at Nandikar under the legendary Ajitesh Bandopadhyay. He had started out as an operator and subsequently graduated into a light designer himself. He had subsequently worked with stalwarts and significant theatre personalities across generations including Sombhu Mitra, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Arun Mukhopadhyay and right up to Meghnad Bhattacharya, Bratya Basu, etc.

However his very first step into the world of performing arts, as he fondly recalls, was like a bolt from the blue. It all began on a November morning in 1973 when he was asked by a senior acquaintance to accompany him on a trip to the city outskirts. The trip ended at a Jatra venue and by the end of the day, the young Badal Das had fallen in love with the stage. His academic background and fundamental knowledge of circuitry boosted his interest in the operations of light in theatre as he ended up working in Nandikar during the big boom of Bengali Theatre. He also looks back on the valuable lessons he learned from the masters including the various technical and philosophical nuances of operating and designing lights on stage. With a body of work spanning over 400 productions, he still regrets about not having an opportunity to work with Utpal Dutta.

Learning theatre under the multiple tutelages of Bengali Theatre

Contemplating on his own method of working, he believes in reading the script thoroughly to have a proper understanding of the crux which allows him to be more involved in the production. This in turn, gives him the motivations and logic behind his designs instead of merely ‘lighting things up’ which is a recent trend in Bengali stage that he doesn’t quite agree with. He strongly disagrees rather hates the idea of top lighting in theatre without a definite motivation from the script point. He also stresses upon the significance and importance of innovations and improvisations as a technical person. Otherwise there is no point in individual work; one is merely repeating what his predecessors did years and years ago. And without the ability to improvise, one becomes completely restricted by availability factor of equipment. And finally, whatever be the technological advancements, the evolution of theatre and its techniques actually rest upon understanding and application.

Designing light following logics from script to  stage production

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