An Afternoon with Theater Legend Debesh Chattopadhyay at Houston Durga Bari


Debesh Chattopadhyay

By Sanchali Basu

HOUSTON: It was a pleasant early spring afternoon, when I got to meet Debesh Chattopadhyay at Houston Durgabari last Sunday. With the soft breeze blowing his hair, cigarette in hand, he was in a relaxed, leisurely mood taking a break between his very hectic drama rehearsal schedule. It was a pleasure chatting with this theater director, actor, playwright from Kolkata. For the last 27 years he has worked in this field and is currently in the forefront of the Bengali theater scene and has now even made strides in documentary film making.

Chattopadhyay was in Houston on a special assignment to conduct a theater workshop and drama rehearsal with the local theater buffs. He has taken on the responsibility of staging a play under his direction with the amateur actors here, at the North American Bengali Conference (NABC) to be held in Houston at the George Brown Convention Center July 10-12, this year.

I was able to catch a glimpse of the rehearsal in progress and there was pin drop silence excepting the actors saying their lines and an ambience of intense seriousness in the air. On talking to the amateur actors,  I found that they were very enthused by his guidance and were trying to live up to his high expectations. They were all very grateful at getting this great opportunity to learn the tricks from the master of the trade right in the middle of Houston.

Debesh was very impressed by the sheer dedication shown by the amateur actors. There was the initial shock which he had to overcome, since he is only used to working with professional actors. But seeing the serious interest and willingness of each actor to invest long hours towards rehearsals, despite their extremely busy schedules, he has been forced to reciprocate. He said that it has been a new learning process for him and overall has been a great fulfilling experience for him to go back to the basics to train the amateurs.

An integral part of the Bengali theater group Sansriti, Debesh has been instrumental in directing several of their successful full length and short plays. He explained to me the definition of the word Sansriti, which is derived from the Sanskrit words Sam and Sriti. It means journeying together towards a common and unified goal and essentially reflects and highlights the ascent of the theatrical journey of human beings towards a better world.

He was very happy and proud to announce that he will make his presence felt in a big way at the upcoming NABC with three different productions. He will be staging his professional Sansriti production with actors from Bengal, the second production will be with the amateurs from Houston, and of course the third will be his latest Bengali film, Natoker moto.

He wanted to reach out and invite all prabashi Bangalis (Bengalis living outside of Bengal) to attend the NABC in Houston, and thus bear fruition to all the hard work and effort being put in. To register for NABC please visit