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Interviews

Face to Face with Dolly Basu

The world today knows Dolly Basu as a well-known television actress and a renowned theatre personality but few however, are aware of the daring battle that she is waging behind the scenes to make the world a better place. In a candid chat, she opens up about her past, her daughters, her love for arts and about how theatre has played the most influential role in shaping up her life.

Born as Dolly Wahi in a Punjabi family, she received her education from Ballygunge Siksha Sadan and inspite of the craze-for-science that prevailed in those days, she opted for fine arts in  Class XI. For Dolly Basu it was a “blessing to have had a childhood where simple pleasures of life like getting drenched in the rain with her gumboots on, returning home with her father and having warm milk with jalebis were appreciated whole heartedly.” Speaking about her love for arts, she reveals that her dream of pursuing arts died along with her father’s surmise when she was in class – X and she had never painted anything ever since. But then, she regards she has “just changed her canvas” such that each and everything she does has an artistic essence imbibed in it, be it set-designing, costume-designing or even choreography. Her father, “the man” in her life and her “soulmate” was the source of encouragement for her to begin acting, her ultimate love.

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Although language was an obstacle for young Dolly in the initial days, yet Shankha Ghosh’s approval encouraged her to learn Bengali within a mere span of 28days. Soon enough, she became one of the leading stalwarts in the world of theatre. The idea of formation of her own theatre-group Chupkatha emerged with the goal of spreading the popularity of renowned Bengali plays outside the borders of Bengal as well, by translating them into Hindi and English. Together with assistance from her “natyo-guru” Ashit Mukhopadhyay, Chupkatha, thus came into existence.

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However, Chupkatha unlike others, does not merely serve the purpose of production of plays but has a special organ of play-therapy for treating children, most of whom suffer from psychological or traumatic problems. “In most of the cases, the problem does not lie with the child but with the parents who mishandle the child. Even with my busy schedule and profession, I have always maintained that my three daughters are my utmost priority. Providing children company and spending time with them is the most effective method of bringing up well-disciplined children,” she opines.

Theatre is a platform for the children’s self – expression, for becoming disciplined and for instilling self-confidence in them.” Theatre is not merely the delivery of few lines on stage. It helps in making a child responsible, well-disciplined and it even helps in imbibing values within children faster as I noticed while bringing up my youngest daughter, who was involved in theatre from a very young age. And moreover, a majority of special children here, are amazing actors”, she informs.The recovery of the children is almost striking and miraculous, informs the parents.

“It has been 2 years since my son has joined this institution. He was diagonised with Autism and back then he could not communicate at all. Now he is 6years old and with time his vocabulary has increased and his communication skills have improved. He loves coming here, ami ekhane ashi karon amar chele ekhane ashte bhaalobashi”, says a parent. An ex-student of Dolly Basu and now an active teacher of the institution speaks about his own experience – ” I have been a student of this institution for 13 years. Now that I have come back, the whole process of improvement in all children is absolutely magical.”

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Theatre – therapy, basically, is used to explain the children about empathising or feeling for others and behaving accordingly. Children who could not even speak previously now go up on stage and deliver long speeches such that the audience becomes spellbound.

The brilliant foresight of Dolly Basu in helping these helpless, troubled children by engaging them in play-therapy is unconventional and undeniably praiseworthy. Her efforts are already fetching results as a few years back she produced ‘The Merchant Of Venice’ with children in leading roles and this turned out to be a grand success.For her , life is a journey full of unexpected changes and thus, should be lived accordingly with changing circumstances. For helping the future citizens of the nation, she has even armed herself with an extensive degree in counselling. She implores, “It is our utmost duty to look after our children and protect them from acts of violence and aggression. Unless we look after our children now, we are heading for a disaster.”

That is what makes Dolly Basu not just a mere pioneer actor or theatre personality but a soul, devoted to working tirelessly for the upliftment and development of society as well. May her good works and her noble endeavours continue in the future years to come as well.

Content Writing : Sayari Mukherjee
Interviewer : Deblina Roy, Sanket Sagar 
Original Copyright © 2014-2015 LaughaLaughi.com
Picture Courtesy : Facebook, Laughalaughi
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Sayari Mukherjee

A student of English honors in Lady Brabourne College, Kolkata.

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