By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, June 12: Father of Assam’s mobile theatre, Achyut Lahkar, passed away in his hometown Pathsala on Sunday. He was 85.
Lahkar was suffering from old–age related ailments since the last few years and was under treatment at his son–in–law’s hospital at Pathsala. He breathed his last at 8 am today at his son–in–law’s residence.
Born in 1931, Lahkar had founded the traj Theatre in 1963 at Pathsala, a town which soon became the hub of Assamese mobile theatre.
Lahkar was a well known dramatist, director, producer and actor and also the recipient of Kamal Kumari tiol Award in 1997.
A theatre enthusiast from his childhood days, Lahkar gave the mobile theatre movement the shape of a successful entertainment industry, that too in a State where film–making continues to be a difficult proposition. In its first year, traj Theatre staged four plays – Jerengar Sati, Haider Ali, Bhogjora and Tikendrajit.
Some of the most popular plays of Lahkar were Abraham Lincoln, Gatantra, Miri Jiori, Beula and Ajeo Vietm. He also produced a film – Black Money – in 1973–74.
Proprietor of Aabahan Theatre Krish Roy, who worked with Lahkar in the initial years of traj Theatre, said, “He did not just the acting part, but everything else, from direction to lighting to setting… he used to handle all aspects. He brought in a revolution in the State which no one could have ever imagined. Even Kolkata, which was also rich in theatre, could not think of such a genre.”
Mobile theatre, it may be mentioned, is unique to Assam.
“Today, there are some 100 small and big theatre groups, each engaging 150–odd people. Mobile theatre today has become an industry. But during our conversations, Lahkar used to regret that he was not given any recognition… but he never expressed these feelings before anyone else,” Roy said.
“Lahkar not only pioneered mobile theatre in Assam, but also worked hard to give it the dimension of a booming entertainment industry that provides employment to hundreds of actors, technicians, musicians and other people. On his death, Assam has lost a towering theatre persolity,” well–known actor and FTII Society member Pranjal Saikia said.
Veteran playwright and cultural persolity Rat Ojha on the other hand described Lahkar’s death as a huge loss to the State’s cultural landscape.
Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal said Lahkar’s demise is a big loss to the mobile theatre world. “He enriched the State’s culture through the genre. He will always remain an inspiration for mobile theatre,” Sonowal said.
Among the mourners who visited Lahkar’s residence today were Speaker Ranjit Kumar Das, Cultural Affairs minister ba Kumar Doley, MLAs Pabindra Kumar Deka, Angoorlata Deka, thespians Ratan Lahkar, zrul Islam, Subodh Mazumdar, Sankalpajit and representatives of various social and student organizations.
Lahkar’s last rites were performed with State honours at the Pragati Sangha premises of Pathsala.
Local MLA Pabindra Deka said a memorial will be built at Pathsala by the State government.
Governor PB Acharya, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi, Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia, ministers Atul Bora, Himanta Biswa Sarma, AASU, AJYCP, Congress, AGP, BJP, Mobile Theatre Producers Association, Asom Xahitya Xabha, Jasangyog Employees Association, Guwahati Press Club, Assam Press Correspondents Union and others have expressed profound grief at Lahkar’s demise.