IPTA is the short form for Indian People’s Theatre Association. In the Hindi belt it is called Bhartiya Jan Natya Sangh, in
and West Bengal, Bhartiya Gana Natya Sangh (Gana Sanskriti Sangh)and in Andhra
Pradesh, Praja Natya Mandali. The mission
statement of IPTA is ‘People’s Theatre Stars the People’. The symbol/logo designed
by the famous painter Chitta Prasad is a drummer (nagara vadak), which is a reminder of one of the oldest medium of
communication. IPTA was established at the national level on May 25, 1943 in (now Mumbai). The
Government of India issued a commemorative stamp in 1993 on the occasion of its
Golden Jubilee. Bombay
The history of IPTA runs parallel to the people’s cultural movement in the country and relates to the independence and the anti-fascist movements.
The origin of IPTA followed the first Progressive Writer’s Association Conference in 1936, the Establishment of Youth Cultural Institute at Calcutta in 1940, and setting up of the People’s Theatre at Bangalore by Anil De’ Silva of Sri Lanka in 1941. Anil De’ Silva assisted in formation of IPTA in
Various progressive cultural troupes, theatre groups and other progressive
cultural activists came together spontaneously and at their own initiative for
the formation of IPTA. The name People’s Theatre was suggested by the renowned
scientist Homi Jahangir Bhabha who was inspired by Romain Rolland’s book on the
concepts of People’s Theatre. Bombay
The devastating man-made famine of
in 1942 inspired many a progressive writers and artists. One of them was Binoy
Roy who organized Bengal Cultural Squad to sensitize about the impact of famine
on the people and to collect money to support the victims. The Squad traveled
through the breadth of the country presenting their choir ‘Bhookha Hai Bengal’ created by
Vamik Jaunpuri and other songs and plays. Musician Prem Dhawan , drum player
Dashrath Lal, singer Reva Roy, actress Usha Dutt were also a part of the Squad.
Motivated by the Squad, several cultural groups were formed, including the Agra
Cultural Squad. When these groups became effective in their regions, a need was
felt to organize them at the national level. Ideologically these groups were
inspired by the left movement and the then General Secretary of the Communist
Party of India, P.C. Joshi, played an instrumental role to bring these groups
on a common forum. General Secrtetary of Progressive Writers’ Association
Sajjad Zaheer also contributed a lot.The Indian People’s Theatre Association
was thus born.
IPTA came into existence on May 25, 1943 at the National Conference at the
in . It
was attended by creative artists from all over the country. In his Presidential
Address, Professor Hiren Mukherjee gave a call to all those present: “Come writer
and the artist, come actor and the play-wright, come all who work by hand or by
brain,dedicate yourselves to the task of building a brave new world of freedom
and social justice.” The first National Committee comprised of Trade Union
Leader N.M. Joshi as the President, Anil De’ Silva as the General Secretary,
Khwaja Ahmed Abbas as the Treasurer, Binoy Roy and K.D. Chandi as the Joint
Secretaries. The National Committee and regional committees comprised of
leading progressive artists from Bombay Bombay, Bengal,
Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Malabar,
Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and representatives of various mass
organizations. Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru had sent his message for the Conference.
In Conferences that followed Smt. Sarojini Naidu, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and other
leaders also sent their messages. Hyderabad
The second and the third Conferences were also held in
in 1944 and 1945.
The fourth Conference was held at Bombay Calcutta in
1946, fifth at Ahmedabad in 1948, sixth at Allahabad
in 1949 and seventh at
in 1953. During this period many progressive thinkers took organizational roles
including Anna Bhau Sathe, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Vallathol, Manoranjan
Bhattacharya, Niranjan Sen, Dr. Raja Rao, Rajendra Raghuvanshi, M. Nagabhushanam,
Balraj Sahani, Eric Cyprian, Sarla Gupta, Dr. S.C. Jog, Binoy Roy, V.P. Sathe,
Sudhi Pradhan, Bimal Roy, Tera Singh Chann, Amritlal Nagar, K. Subramaniam,
K.V.J. Namboodri, Shiela Bhatia, Dina Gandhi (Pathak), Surinder Kaur, Abdul
Malik, R.M. Singh, Vishnu Prasad Rawa, Nagen Kakoti, Janardan Kurup, Nemi
Chandra Jain, Venkat Rao Kandilker, Salil Chaudhry, Hemang Biswas, and Amar
The eighth National Conference was held at Natraj Nagri - Ramleela Maidan,
from December 23, 1957 to January 1, 1958. The conference was attended by more
than 1000 artists from all over Delhi
and inaugurated by the then Vice President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. The National
Committee comprised of Sachin Sen Gupta (Calcutta) as the President, Vishnu
Prasad Rava (Gauhati), Rajendra Raghuvanshi (Agra) and K. Subramaniam (Madras)
as the Vice Presidents, Niranjan Sen (Calcutta) as the General Secretary,
Nirmal Ghosh (Calcutta), Radheyshyam Sinha (Patna), Dr. Raja Rao (Andhra
Pradesh) Mughani Abbasi (Bombay) as the Joint Secretaries, and Sajalrao
Chaudhary as the Treasurer. Other members of the committee comprised leading
artists from India Bombay, Assam,
Manipur, Bihar, Orissa, Delhi, Punjab, Madhya
Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Mysore, Rajasthan,
Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
IPTA’s cultural movement portrayed contemporary reality through visual art, traditional art forms with modern thought. It created awareness for socio-political change. The members of IPTA who favoured Art for life (Kala Jeevan Ke Liye) developed a new vision towards arts and aesthetics. They established a new definition of the relationship between art, artists and the audience. IPTA absorbed the live elements of Indian culture, established relationship with the progressive assets of world culture and itself contributed to the world of art by its creativity. IPTA members were oppressed time and again by the power for their progressive and revolutionary ideas and expressions.
The modern choir singing in
was initiated by IPTA. Pt.
Ravi Shankar composed Iqbal’s ‘Sare Jahan
Se Achha…..’ for the Central Cultural Troupe of IPTA established in 1944.
Binoy Roy, Salil Chaudhary, Hemang Vishwas, Prem Dhawan, Narendra Sharma, Sahir
Ludhianvi, Shankar Shailendra, Makhdoom Muhiuddin, Sheel, Vallathol, Jyotirmai
Moitra, Jyoti Prasad Agrawal, Bhupen Hazarika, Anil Biswas and many others
penned and composed songs in different languages. They were responsible for
initiating Janasangeet (people’s music) and led it to new heights. India
The dance drama of the Central Troupe, namely, Bharat ki Atma (The Spirit of India) and Amar Bharat (Etenal
made a historic contribution. These presentations involved Ravi Shankar, Binoy
Roy, and Aboni Das Gupta as musicians, Shantivardhan and Nagesh as dance
directors and Prem Dhawan as lyricist. Simultaneously, traditional folk forms
were provided contemporary context by Jyotirmai Moitra in his ‘Navjeevner Gaan’ (dance drama), and by
Dr. Raja Rao of Andhra Pradesh in Burra
Katha, Veethi Natak, and Hari Katha.
The Machhua dance of Malabar and folk
dances of India North India also gave a new identity
to the people’s art. Amar Sheikh’s folk songs in Marathi and Magai Ojha’s
Assamese folk instrumental music also found their place in the movement.
IPTA gave a new direction to Indian theatre. It presented people’s pains and sorrows, dreams and ambitions in a new form breaking down the existing and conventional forms. Bijon Bhattacharya’s play ‘Navaanna’ (The New Crop) proved to be path breaking. Shankar-Vasireddy’s ‘Maa Bhumi’, Toppil Bhasi’s ‘Tumne Mujhe Communist Banaya’ (You Made Me a Communist) along with the plays of Dr. Rashid Jahan, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Ali Sardar Jafri, T. Sarmalkar, Balwant Gargi, Jaswant Thakkar, Mama Varerkar, Acharya Atrey, and others established the realistic theatre in the country. Directors and actors included Balraj Sahni, Shambhu Mitra, Habib Tanvir, Bhishma Sahni, Dina Pathak, Rajendra Raghuvanshi, R.M. Singh, Uttpal Dutt, A.K. Hangal, Rameshwar Singh Kashyap, Shiela Bhatia and others. Shadow plays and extempore plays were experimented. Tapas Sen made his contribution in stage light effects and Shilpi Kumar in set design. The professional repertory KPAC (Kerala People’s Art Club) is celebrating its diamond jubilee (60th) this year.
IPTA produced a film Dharti Ke Lal in 1946. This was based on Bijon Bharttacharya’s dramas ‘Navaann’ and ‘Antim Abhilasha’. This film was directed by Khwaja Ahmed Abbas with music direction by Pt. Ravi Shankar, dance direction by Shanti Vardhan and lyrics by Ali Sardar Jafri and Prem Dhawan. Shambhu Mitra, Tripti Mitra, Balraj Sahni, Damayanti Sahni, Usha Dutt, and hundreds of farmers, students, and labourers acted in the film. Many other artists of IPTA including Ritwik Ghatak established their own identity in the film world and affected the realistic cinema stream.
The phase of disintegration (1960-1984)
Around 1960, IPTA disintegrated at the national level though units in
Bombay, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar,
Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and some other places continued their activities. Many
theatre groups continued to extend their progressive ideology working
independently. During this period Shambhu Mitra’s theatre group ‘Bahuroopi’, Habib Tanvir’s ‘New Theatre’,
Ruma Guha Thakurta’s ‘Calcutta Youth Choir’ ,M.B.Shrinivasan’s ‘Madras Youth
Choir’ made a mark. Shanti Vardhan, Uttpal Dutt and many others also had
performing groups. Inspired by the legacy of People’s Cultural Movement, Jan Natya Manch, Jan Sanskriti Manch, and many other organizations also came into
being. In early 1980’s a dialogue was established between IPTA units across the
country and attempts were made to reconstitute the National organization.
IPTA’s national convention was called in 1985 at
, where 300 representatives from 15
states participated. This was an initiative to reconstitute IPTA at the
National level. After more than two decades, in 1986, the ninth National
Conference was held at Agra .
The noted film director Shyam Benegal inaugurated the Conference. Kaifi Azmi
was elected as the President. Hemang Viswas, Rajendra Raghuvanshi, C.
Nagabhushnam, A.K. Hangal, Dina Pathak, M.S. Sathyu, Bhishm Sahni, Subrat
Banerjee, Sayyad Abdul Malik, Toppil Bhasi, Rameshwar Singh Kashyap, Narayan
Surve, M.V. Sriniwasan, Jaswant Thakkar, Surinder Kaur and Ruma Guha Thakurta
were elected as Vice Presidents. Other office bearers were: Govind Vidyarthi as
General Secretary, Abid Razvi, K. Pratap Reddy, Jitendra Raghuvanshi, Tanvir
Akhtar, and Amitabh Pandey as Secretaries. Hyderabad
The Conference declaration said: We, the old and new workers of IPTA re-dedicate ourselves to organize IPTA into a powerful and effective National Movement. We trust the people of
who are countering the
divisive forces in the country and we take pride in building live cultural
relationships by joining hands. India
The Tenth National Conference was held at Jaipur in 1992, the eleventh at Trissure (Kerala) in 2001, the Twelfth at
in 2005 and The Thirteenth at
Bhilai(Chhattisgarh) in 2011. Freedom fighter, renowned theatre and film artist
Padma Bhushan Shri. A. K. Hangal is currently the President of IPTA National
Committee and Senior dramatist–director Ranbir Singh is the Working President. Presently
more than 600 units of IPTA are active in 24 states and union territories
across the country. Lucknow
- Jitendra Raghuvanshi