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05 Film Personalities and Others in the Public Gaze

Solomon Bekhor and Amateur Shakespearean Theater

Utpal and SolomoUtpal and Solomon

Solomon Bekhor was an active presence in Calcutta's theatre space. He had worked with Utpal Dutta on several occassions and had also served as a music director in Dutt's Little Theatre productions.

Solomon Bekhor wrote a story about his family and his young days. Read it here

My involvement in Theater, by Solomon Bekhor

So many years have passed, where do I begin, let's start from my student days when I was studying for my BSC degree at St. Xavier's College in Calcutta, where by chance I met Utpal Dutt, who one day was to become a great actor, politician and writer (See his Wikipedia page)

We discovered that we had lots in common regarding acting and opening a Theatre, with the help of the Rector at St. Xavier's we were allowed to perform there as they had a good Theatre which was used by ENSA during the war. We called our Theatre "The Amateur Shakespearian” (See the the page and my article about the birth of our Theatre). About this time an English travelling  Theatre company came to Calcutta and called themselves Shakespeareana. The family troupe consisted of Jeffrey Kendal, his wife Laura Liddle, daughters Jennifer Bragg and Felicity Kendal. Utpal joined them and later I also got parts. This is quite amusing I got a part in Hamlet as Rosenkranz and on the opening night the Governor of Bengal was present. While Jeffrey was giving his speech as Hamlet, Protap Roy as Guildenstein was dragging me off the stage but Jeffrey did not finish his speech and dragged us back.

Several years after I met Jeffrey in London and he remembered that scene and we had a good laugh. We decided to call our Theatre " The Little Theatre". We were now well established at the time I was studying violin at the Calcutta School ofMusic and I mentioned to Utpal  why not have live background music with the play, so with my friends at the School of Music I formed "The Amateur Shakespearian Orchestra". The Kendals had records but we had a proper orchestra which I directed and played the violin. I kept all the programmes and Utpal"s widow Sova who was a well-known actress was delighted. The programmes are now in the archives and Foundation for Utpal Dutt and my article is in the book "Epic Theatre".

In 1984/85 I made contact with Utpal and was invited to come to Calcutta and take part in a film about a Russian character Lebedeff (1749-1815) and a Russian Film Company will also be involved I went to Calcutta and met Utpal and the Russians, unfortunately Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated and there were elections and the film was postponed. This for me was also a nostalgia trip, I had a good video camera at that time very few people in India had video cameras. There was a project in a place outside Calcutta called ANTARA  where also Mother Theresa was involved, it was a project for the poor to be self-supporting and my videoing helped the project I went to a play where Utpal and his wife Sova were acting. After the play, Utpal introduced me to the actors and he was very gracious and said that I was one of the founder members of The Little Theatre.

Read Solomon's memoir on Calcutta's Little Theater founded by him and Utpal Dutt "Happy Memories - Our Student Years - Birth of the Little Theatre"

For more information and documents on Little Theatre activity see here: