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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, February 1, 2008
Arts & Entertainment

The life and times of a mime maestro

In conversation with Partha Pratim Majumder

Partha Pratim Majumder

PARTHA Pratim Majumder is undoubtedly a forerunner in the field of mime in Bangladesh. Partha spans the western and oriental mine traditions and seeks ways in which these can grow on each other to create new forms of artistic expression which transcend cultural barriers. Partha travels all over the world to teach the art of mime, organises workshops with young people and creates productions with the attendees. He also teaches mime to individuals with speech impairments.

Partha is the torchbearer of the universal mime, developed by legendary French mime artiste Marcel Marceau, blending western corporeal mime and pantomime with oriental Chinese Opera, Japanese traditional Kabuki and Noh and Indian Kathakali performing art forms. Partha's artistic excellence has unfolded during the last two decades at both home and abroad -- Europe and North America. His devotion and sensitivity uplift an ordinary theme to a sublime height.

Partha has been living in Paris for over last two decades. The mime maestro is currently in town upon an invitation of Bangladesh Lung Foundation to perform at the 1st International Conference on Lung Health (to be held from February 20 to 22 at the Bangladesh China Friendship Conference Centre). Moreover, Partha will conduct several workshops on mime for the theatre actors and models. The artiste recently spoke with The Daily Star.

Partha was born in an artistically inclined family in Pabna in 1954. He trained in Jogesh Dutta's Mime Academy in Calcutta from 1966 to 1972. Coming back to Dhaka, he enrolled at the Government Music College.

In the '70s Partha used to perform mime and render songs at different programmes, which earned him popularity. At the same time he joined theatre troupe Drama Circle. In the early '80s he got his chance to study mime in Europe.

According to Partha, “Watching my performances on stage and TV, the then French Ambassador to Bangladesh offered me a scholarship to study mine in Paris. It was the first scholarship on mime offered in an Asian country. In 1981 I moved to Paris to study mime with Etienne Decroux. While studying under Decroux, I was introduced to the legendary French mime artiste Marcel Marceau. Marceau offered to train me. From 1982 to 1985 I studied at Marceau's mime school and became a member of his touring company.”

“Marceau treated me as his favourite disciple and friend. Together we had performed in many shows. He used to introduce me as 'the bridge between orient and occident'. Since the mid-'80s I have performed solo and company performances throughout Europe and in the United States, Malaysia and Bangladesh. Moreover, I have acted in films and commercials,” said Partha.

Commenting on his secret behind success as a mime artiste, Partha said, “My keen sense of music and rhythm enabled me to let my limbs move and express my surroundings through gestures.”

Partha wrote and choreographed a mimodrama titled The Nightmare, in a record time of two months, which was staged in Bangladesh in 1994. This was achieved with the collaboration of different theatre groups and professional dancers from Dhaka. The mimodrama concerning child abuse was the first of its kind to be staged in South Asian and its success was acclaimed.

In 1986 Partha performed a solo at the UNESCO Headquarter in Paris. The show, Boatman of Padma, was the first mime presentation at the UNESCO Headquarter and a houseful audience enjoyed the show.”

For his contribution to mime, Partha Pratim Majumder has been honoured with awards and titles including 'Master of Mime' from the Mime Institute of India (1987), 'Master of the World' from France (1987), 'Millennium Award' from England and Fobana 2000 Award.

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