Arun Sarma Award for theatreperson Pakija Begum


The two-day Wings Theatre Festival in Guwahati concluded on Wednesday with the staging of the play “Padmapriya” by Pakija Begum. This was followed by award of Dr Arun Sarma Samman to Pakija Begum. The chief guest on the occasion was Padmashri Eli Ahmed, noted litterateur of Assam.

Speaking on the occasion, Eli Ahmed stressed on the importance and significance of art and culture in the society. She said there will invariably decay in the society and loss of values if free expression through arts is not encouraged by the government and the people.

The newly instituted Arun Sarma Samman was handed over to Pakija Begum who in 1995 had established ‘BA’, a cultural organisation, in Guwahati. Pakija has authored a book of children’s plays titled Xarudhemali Bardhemali. She was awarded the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar of Sangeet Natak Akademi for the year 2010 for her talent in the field of theatre as an actor.

Needless to mention that Dr Arun Sarma, in whose memory and honour the new award has been instituted was a renowned writer of Assam. He was one of Assam’s contemporary playwrights and particularly known for his unconventional plays with some elements of drama. Besides drama, he also authored over six novels detailing the Assamese way of life. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2010 in recognition of his contributions to Assamese literature.

A mini theatre hall, unique in many ways, with a capacity of 75, and set up by upcoming theatre prodigy Kismat Banu was inaugurated by mime expert Mainul Hoque earlier on Tuesday. Two plays, Bidhyabalan (Assamese) directed by Naren Patgiri and Bade Bhaisahab (Hindi) directed by Dilip Khanal were staged on the inaugural day of the theatre festival.

Sibananda Kakoti, a noted writer and dramatist of Assam, who also spoke at the inaugural function informed the audience that while Kalaguru Bishnu Rabha was hiding to escape from the dragnet of Police had spent many years in the same area where the new mini theatre has come up. Thus, he remarked, “This mini theatre is actually a tribute to the Kalaguru and will help spread the love for theatre for which Rabha lived his whole life.”

Thanking all artistes involved in the theatre festival and the audience present, Kismat Bano announced that she will train the youngsters of the State in the art of theatre at her mini theatre hall, and hold shows at regular intervals for creating awareness and love for theatre among the people in the area.

Nurul Laskar

Nurul Laskar

Nurul Islam Laskar was born in Shillong on June 18, 1950. A University topper and gold medallist, he joined the State Bank of India as a Probationary Officer in 1972. In 1976, Laskar was awarded the Rotary International Group Study Exchange Scholarship to visit on home stay in the state of Oklahoma USA. He was conferred Honorary Citizenship of Oklahoma during this visit. Laskar served as the Chief Manager (Public Relations & Community Services Banking) at SBI Local Head Office (North Eastern Circle), Guwahati during 1994-2002. He was recipient of Loyola College Chennai’s Mother Teresa Award for outstanding Community Service in 2001. In 2002, he took voluntary retirement from SBI and served as Consulting Editor, The Sentinel (English Daily) from 2002 to 2004 and as Executive Editor, Eastern Chronicle (National English Daily) from 2009 to 2014. Around this time, Laskar set up CABSFORD PR, the first public relations agency of North East India. Laskar is the first PR practitioner of North East to get a post graduate degree in Public Relations. He teaches PR at BCMJ, Cotton University, Guwahati and conducts PR workshops at various universities and institutes as a visiting lecturer. Presently, Laskar is the Chief Adviser, Public Relations Society of India (PRSI) Guwahati Chapter and Founder Director of ‘Learning & Promoting Public Relations’ (LAP-PR), an organisation to promote the practice of PR among the youngsters of North East. Besides, he is also the Director (Corporate Communication) at University of Science & Technology Meghalaya (USTM) and Honorary Director at Tangent Public Relations Guwahati.