Nabanna: Of Famine and Resilience: A Play

by Arjun Ghosh, Bijon Bhattacharya

  • Format Paperback
  • Imprint Rupa
  • Price 295

During the relief efforts in the wake of the Bengal famine the IPTA created Nabanna – a play that tells the story of the villagers of Aminpur. The Sammadar family is already battling extreme food shortage, starvation and highhandedness of land sharks, when a tidal wave destroys their crops, homes, hopes and everything. The desperation to survive they are forced to walk to Calcutta. But their hope of help from the Calcutta middle class is soon dashed by the apathy and lack of preparedness that they encounter. They return to the village and resolve to counter their fate with a new strategy. Nabanna is a watershed in the history of the Indian stage on several counts. It marks a break from the commercial stage and the inception of an activist, amateur theatre. It transcended the limitations of the naturalistic stage to make way for a versatile décor which added pace to the episodic action. The creation of Nabanna recharted the relationship between the aesthetic and the political in India. This volume includes a critical introduction that traces the context and significance of Nabanna and testimonies by important figures of the first performance of the play.



Calcutta in the 1940s

War and Famine

Communists and the War

Formation of the IPTA

Bengali Stage Before Nabanna

The Creation of Nabanna

The Play

In Performance

Reactions and Legacy


The Play

Act One

Act Two

Act Three

Act Four

Production Note for Nabanna: Bijon Bhattacharya

Nabanna and Me: Sova Sen

Memories: Tripti Mitra

Interview: Shombhu Mitra


This book has now been included in the B.A. English Honours syllabus at University of Delhi