An Italian dramatist plans a movie on Binodini Dasi

                                                                                                                                               Cristina Donadio

Binodini Dasi has been Bengali theatre’s first and perhaps the most versatile leading lady ever. During a little over a decade she acted in some 50 plays. She became famous for her role as  Nemai  in  Chaitanya  Lila. Directed by Girish Chandra Ghose, one of the pioneers of Bengali stage, the play opened a new chapter in the history of Bengali theatre. After  watching  her  performance Ramakrishna, the  seer of  Dakhisneswar, went to the green room and blessed Binodini saying “Ma tomar chaitanya hok” (Mother, let enlightenment dawn on you.).And now Cristina Donadio, one of the biggest stars of both stage and screen in Italy, is making a film on her!

As she explains, “I see a lot of similarities between Neapolitan and Bengali theatre of Kolkata. There is the same amount of enthusiasm and passion. I want to make a movie about Binodini Dasi and it may be a co-production between India and Italy. I think it is not only a story of an actress but also of a great woman. In both Italy and India, there is a surge of violence against women. As a women performer I want to address the issue”

Cristina has been directed by the likes of Frederico Fellini in La Citta Delle Donne and Werner Shroeter, and has acted with the likes of Ben Gazzarra, Treat Williams and Klaus Kinsky.She was here in Kolkata International Theatre Festival organized by Kalindi Bratyajon.

Talking about the contemporary Italian theatre scenario, she says, “The scenario of theatre in Italy is good. I come from Naples, which has a deep tradition and culture of theatre. We have traditional Italian drama and many theatre companies work on classics like Shakespeare and Greek tragedy. Since 1980's there was change in the scenario and theatre became more close to the body and not just about script. We understood that tradition is important but at the same time to be non-conventional. Italian audiences like to watch “unconventional” plays that are “rooted in tradition”. The theatre became more real and since then there have been several theatre festivals in Italy.”

At the same time, she expresseed her concern about certain aspects  of Italian theatre today. “The government in Italy isn’t doing much for culture. We are going through a severe economic crisis and unfortunately the first cut in the public money was made in culture. We are suffering. The last twenty years Berlusconi messed up the cultural field in Italy. He is the owner of many television channels and many newspapers and magazines and showed women as sex symbol. We are living in a corner and the real tradition is getting lost. We have to fight against cinema that portrays women as sex objects, but we are surviving.”

When asked about her advice to the aspiring theatre players, she says, “Many people there say I am doing a character. I guess this is wrong. Rather one should say I am being a character. One needs to feel the character. This is the right approach.”

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