Manish Mitra’s KANKA O LEELA (Based on Mymansingha Geetika) Director: Mary Acharya


Playwright: Manish Mitra
Director: Mary Acharya
Group: Kasba Arghya, Kolkata
Language: Bengali
Duration: 1 hr 30 mins

The Play
Kanka, son of a poor Brahmin, loses both his parents when he is an infant and is adopted by an untouchable childless couple. But they too, die soon-after, and Kanka is adopted by a Brahmin, Garga, who gives him good education. Garga’s daughter Leela is very fond of Kanka. Kanka, well-versed in Hindu scriptures becomes a Muslim. His compositions become famous all over the country, but the local Brahmin community hates Kanka and they incite Garga against him. Infuriated Garga poisons Kanka’s food. Leela who has seen this asks Kanka to leave their house. Garga realizes his mistake and his disciples try in vain to find Kanka. It is said that he has drowned. But he comes back only to find Leela, unable to bear the news of his death, dead.

Director’s Note
In this age of moribund capitalism and extravagant consumerism, it is the task of the artist to look into the deep ethnic roots of traditions and culture of the society he/she belongs to. This search inspired us to structure the play with folk motifs and folk music. This episode from the ballads of Mymansingha Geetika has a social significance also. Kanka O Leela has a very strong religious implication. The love of Kanka and Leela is secular and in full accord with the themes of the other episodes of the ballads. And so is the criticism pointed against the Brahmin community which is the main culprit in this case, and also the cause of the tragedy.

The Director
Mary Acharya was an actor in the West Bengal Government State Repertory before joining Kasba Arghya. She has acted in all of Kasba Arghya’s recent productions. She took training in Pandavani from Shanti Bai Chelak and performs Pandavani regularly. She is the Production Controller in Kasba Arghya’s magnum opus production Urubhangam. Mary has also performed in Eugenio Barba’s theatre Odin Teatret in Denmark and has extensively travelled Europe, especially Poland, where she gave a mesmerising solo performance as Lady Macbeth.

The Playwright
Manish Mitra has written eight plays in Bengali including Sankat, Riot, Journey to Dakghar, Binodini, Raktabhumi, Prem Parab Katha and Chanakya, the elaborated script of Urubhangam, Antigone, Before the Germination and many others. In recent times he has initiated a new process of developing plays on the basis of a unique collaboration between a group of musicians and the actors which gives rise to a flowing musicality of the subject text. His work with Sanskrit plays is significant. His plays have been performed widely all over the country and also in Europe.

The Group
Kasba Arghya is a group of creative theatre workers who have been engaged in various theatre activities for the past 27 years. Since its inception the group has worked to preserve its connection with the country’s ethnic roots and has done extensive work on folk dances, folklores and traditional theatre forms of the country under the guidance of eminent theatre director Manish Mitra. It also runs a child repertory with deprived and slum children of Kolkata. The group has travelled globally and the productions Urubhangam and Macbeth Badya have gained international repute. Kasba Arghya’s work with Sanskrit plays is very significant. All Arghya productions are accompanied by live music played by a very efficient group of musicians.

Cast & Credits
On stage: Mary Acharya, Sayak Mukherjee, Sima Ghosh, Tapas Chatterjee, Raju Bera, Sanjib Kumar Das, Sourav Chakraborty, Shrabani Ghosh, Kaushtav Gupta, Lina Chatterjee, Aparupa Das, Samraj Das, Jyotiska Banerjee, Nimai Pramanik, Shikha Chowdhary, Jaya Basu, Anupam Das, Nibedita Ray

Vocal: Nilanjan Mishra, Sima Ghosh
Esraj: Samyabrata Mukherjee
Harmonium: Subir Sanyal
Percussion: Ratnadeep Mukherjee
Costume: Sima Ghosh
Light: Chandan Das
Production Manager: Bijoy Chatterjee

Playwright: Manish Mitra
Director: Mary Acharya

Manohar Khushalani

Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is a former Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he taught were: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won a total of nine Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Earlier he retired from Government of India as Director Environment Management, Central Water Commission and held many senior positions in the Government Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He was an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. I have not checked in here for some time because I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are good quality so I guess I will add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *