Nati Binodini and her houses - Captivating Calcutta
softetechnologies
29-03-2019    486 times
Nati Binodini

Binodini Dasi, popularly known as Nati Binodini, was born in 1862, in an infamous area of Calcutta, mainly inhabited by the sex workers. It is said that her poor family was also involved in flesh trade and in her biography, she called herself a prostitute. In course of time, she had to become the mistress of three persons.

She started her career in acting at the tender age of 12, when she made her debut in a minor role in the Great National Theatre in December 1874 and finally came to be known as the most famous actress of the nineteenth century Bengal. After two years, she joined the Bengal Theatre for a brief stint and then rejoined the National Theatre for a much longer period of six years. There, she came in touch of her mentor Girish Chandra Ghosh, who taught her the skill of acting.

Girish Chandra Ghosh
Girish Chandra Ghosh

During a dazzling career spanning twelve years she enacted around ninety roles, which included among others, Pramila, Sita, Draupadi, Radha, Motibibi, Kapalkundala, Ayesha in Durgeshnandini, both Kundanandini and Suryamukhi in Bishbriksha, Uma in Agomoni, Gopa in Buddhadeb and the others.

Private Teacher

When Girish Ghosh left National Theatre to form a theatrical group called 'Calcutta Star Company', Binodini stood by him. As a huge sum of money was required to build a new theatre, Binodini made a great personal sacrifice, as she had to leave her patron whom she loved dearly and had to become the mistress of a young affluent Marwari, Gurmukh Roy, who agreed to finance the new theatre in return. She was given assurance that the new theatre would be named 'B-Theater', after the initial of her name.

Tutorial at home
Tutorial at home

However, the promise was not kept, the theatre was opened on 21 July 1883 as the Star Theatre, since his co actors openly protested the idea of naming the playhouse after a fallen woman. Despite the insult and humiliation, Binodini performed in the debut show of the theater and enacted the role of Sati in ‘Daksha Yajna’, with Girish Chandra as Daksha and Amrit Lal Mitra as Mahadev.

Girish Chandra Ghosh with Nati Binodini during a performance
Girish Chandra Ghosh with Nati Binodini during a performance

Despite her enormous popularity, Binodhini appeared before the public for her last performance as an actress in ‘Bellik Bazaar’ in 1886 and then opted for self exile from her theatrical career at the age of 24 years only, when she was at the peak of her glory. She passed away in 1941, at the age of 79.

The house, where Nati Binodini was born
The house, where Nati Binodini was born
Tudor roses on the door of the building
Tudor roses on the door of the building
The plaque
The plaque

During her life time Binodini changed her residence several times. It is considered that she was born in 145 Bidhan Sarani and a plaque on the sideway also claims the same. However, the condition of the plaque is as bad as the building. It is evident that, there is hardly any interested person or party to take care of the building, where the great lady was born, who is intimately connected with the history of Bengali theatre.

The last abode of Nati Binodini
The last abode of Nati Binodini

Binodini spent her last days in a building, located on a lane adjacent to the Star Theatre and is known as Nati Binodini Sarani. Earlier, it was known as Rajabagan Street, named after the sprawling garden house of Raja Rajballabh.

Nati Binodini
softetechnologies
softetechnologies
    Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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