About My Docu Films, Musicals & Lighting Design
Being primararly a musician, I have a special place in my heart for musicals and ballets. I directed my first musical, Rabindranath Tagore’s Shyama in the late 1960s (most likely in 1968). It was, what we called a “Geeti Natya” (not a dance drama!) The effort was a mild success. Though I was very young, the experience taught me a lot! I understood the difference between a solo performance and bringing a team of artists, most of them senior to me, toghether for a perfomance. It also made me think about the technical side of a production. Most importantly, it taught me eto think about the audience and their expectations.
I was introduced to the art of lighting by mother when one night she showed me and my siblings how to do hand shadow art. My love of silhouettes probably arises from those learnings and experiences. Later on, I recall watching a detective play in which one of the characters always appeared as a shadow on a window curtain and I realized then power of lighting and shadows. My first lighting design was for a short children’s mime-act play that I wrote and directed. I had a Baul as a silhouette and used the cyclorama screen for depicting sunrises and sunsets. Together with zone lighting, the impact on the audience of over 2,000 was profound. Most of my friends were surprised that such high-quality lighting and visual effects could be achieved on a makeshift stage built an open field.
My next stage production was Aladdin and I went all out. It was a children’s play that I wrote, directed and designed the lighting. We got the sets built by Manu-da (Studio Supply, Tollygunge) for the stage we built on the open field. He also provided the costumes and make up. We got Bijoy Chatterjee for lighting and special effects. Among other things, we were able to show the genie, growing in size and Aladdin flying in the clouds on the palm of the genie.
Aladdin is, too date, probably my best lighting design. A couple of years later, I had the distinct opportunity to work alongside the legend Tapas Sen. I was there as the music director of the play but my attention was always on the work he was doing. I fondly recall the stage rehearsals and the learning was immense. After coming to the States, I was able to see first-hand the power of lighting design in plays produced by the university students. I got myself more interested in lighting design and started learning the science of the arts. Lighting design has now become an integral part of any production I do.