Theatre pamphlets, much like other forms of theatre ephemera, offer
glimpses of the cultural and entertainment scenes of old times.
Transitory as they are, they capture the essence and joy of looking
forward to performances. The theatre pamphlet in this post provides a
peek into the theatre scene of Kolkata in the 1950s.
Image Contributor: Shrubaboti Bose
(You can read more of Shrubaboti’s writings and musings on her blog at: https://shrubaboti.wordpress.
The following contribution by Shrubaboti Bose is an image of a theatre pamphlet from the 10th of March, 1952, staged by the Purbasha theatre club at the Rang Mahal theatre hall. The theatre hall was built in 1931 in North Kolkata.
In the lines below, she remembers her encounter with the ephemera:
“There's a total of 7 objects in the picture. There's a tiny black pocket pouch, an old stamp, an old metal pen, a caricature drawn by my grandfather, an antique clock, a black diary for writing memos, a theatre pamphlet featuring my grandfather as the protagonist of the play "Aaj Obhinoy Bondho" and dated 10th March, 1952. It was organised by the theatre club called Purbasha.
My grandfather was a theatre actor in his days. But he also liked to doodle sometimes. Mostly caricatures and cartoons.
As I cleaned his old bookshelf a few weeks back, I found little newspaper cut-outs of actors and actresses kept gently between the pages of a notebook. Ones he looked up to or perhaps secretly admired. Among the mess of cluttered junk, I found tattered books, old and dusty, riddled by termites and their pages powdery, brittle with mould and mildew.
I found little pocket diaries with notes dating back to the 1950s, scribbled in hasty but beautiful old-school cursive handwriting, memos about meeting someone in the neighbourhood or calling up a colleague. I found objects, quaint glasses, small wooden cases, things quite outdated and almost negligible inside the cupboard. I cleaned them one by one, returning each to its dear spot on the shelf, keeping his memories alive in them.”
The theatre pamphlet below (along with the other bits and pieces) belong to the very shelf that Shrubaboti Bose rediscovered.
[Detailed Image Description: The seven objects in the image are: a small and round antique clock manufactured by “CYMA” with a yellowed dial and the time reading 10:10 AM/PM; a black diary with the word “Diary” printed on it in golden text; a caricature of a balding pot-bellied man gesticulating and sitting on the floor sketched in black; a small black pouch with a golden insignia; an old brown postage stamp of value “1 Pies”; an old golden pen; a theatre leaflet having the black-and-white photographs of theatre actor Sri Ramendranath Basu (“SriRamen Basu” in the image) and actress Srimati Shankari Mukhopadhyay; and lastly, and most importantly, the theatre pamphlet having Bengali text which read “Purbasha” on the left and the name of the play on the right: “Aj Obhinoy Bondho” (meaning “No Acting Today” or “No Theatre Today”). The accompanying texts include the date and time of the show: “10th March, 1952, Monday 7PM Evening” and the venue “Rang Mahal”; produced by “Sri Arun Ray” and written by “Sri Birendranath PalChoudhury”. The entire text is in black. The pamphlet cover has a small brownish stain in the upper right.
Some of the objects are placed on others but are arranged clockwise in the following manner: pouch, caricature, clock, diary, theatre pamphlet with details of the play and the leaflet of the actors’ photographs.]
Majumdar, Saikat. “Kolkata’s commercial theatre was built on literature, but was looked down on by the intelligentsia.” Scroll.in. URL:
“CYMA - The Brand”. URL: https://www.cyma.ch/brand/