BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: The doyen of Hindi theatre in Bengal, Usha Ganguly, passed away at the age of 75 in Kolkata on Thursday. She suffered a heart attack at her south Kolkata residence.
She is survived by her son. However, she lived alone in her south Kolkata flat. Her husband passed away some years ago. Her brother died three days ago.
A Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, who founded the theatre group Rangakarmee in 1976, Ganguly was born in Rajasthan in 1945. However, her family belongs to Uttar Pradesh. Later, she was trained in Bharatnatyam in Rajasthan. In 1970, she joined the Bhawanipore college as a lecturer.
Her plays — Mahabhoj, Rudali, Court Martial and Antaryatra — will forever be known for being non-conformist. Her Bengali productions include Manasi and Mukti are equally popular. She also worked with director Rituparno Ghosh on the script of Raincoat starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Ajay Devgn.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her condolences. Recalling Ganguly’s aforementioned plays such as Mahabhoj, Rudali and Court Martial, she said the state government had conferred her with the Girish Samman honour in 2016.
“My deep condolences to her family and friends and followers,” the chief minister said in a statement in Bengali.
Actress Shabana Azmi condoled her death. The actress had worked with Ganguly on her 1984 Goutam Ghose directorial Paar. Also, Shabana had seen many of her theatre productions and said that Ganguly was “unparalled.”
Deeply saddened to learn that the theatre doyen #Usha Ganguli passed away in her sleep this morning. I had worked with her in PAAR and seen many of her productions in which she was unparalled. My deepest condolences to the family RIP
— Azmi Shabana (@AzmiShabana) April 23, 2020
Interdisplinary artiste Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee rememberd Ganguly as a voice for the marginalized humans in Indian theatre. According to him, the thespian, invented a new audience for Hindi theatre. “And boy what strength she exuded in creating her space in the otherwise patriarchal bengali theatre scene. Like every human she did falter, but picked up because she had a spine unlike many. From taking theatre to Pakistan or streets of Kolkata, Usha Ganguly invented a new audience for “Hindi” theatre. You will be on my mind Ushadi for ever. At least you never changed colours. Love and hugs for the journey forward with Mukhtaras and Sanicharis,” Sujoy posted on Facebook.
Director Aparna Sen and theatre personality Sohag Sen and several artistes from the theatre and film fraternity expressed shock over her death.
Arindam Sil also expressed shock over her death. Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “Rest in Peace #UshaGanguly. Not just theatre you had won the world with your warmth and affection. Will miss you always. Sad moment.”
CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim also expressed his condolences. “I’m pained at the sudden demise of Usha Ganguly, famous theatre personality and a great human being. My deep condolences to Rangkarmi and her admirers,” he posted on Twitter.
Prosenjit Chatterjee took to Twitter to inform how he was completely blown away after watching Rudali.
আমি মুগ্ধ হয়েছিলাম ‘রুদালি’ দেখে। আজ সকলের অলক্ষ্যে চলে গেলেন বিশ্ব নাটকের ‘রুদালি’, ঊষা গাঙ্গুলি। আমার বিনীত শ্রদ্ধাজ্ঞাপন।🙏
— Prosenjit Chatterjee (@prosenjitbumba) April 23, 2020