Monday, January 24, 2011

Thespian in Conversation

A man who leaves no room to categorization either in life or passion though indeed a forerunner in Maithili theatre, Mahendra Malangia has been appearing on literary and performing arena like a sturdy masseur with overarching effects. Full of reappraising inflections but considerably distant from opulent elitist biases, this living legend has expedious ploy for legging up in greed lock. I have privilege to know him personally since the year 1997, when he had two days grand performance at my place in Uren/Madhubani…moreover, being an avid reader and literary enthusiast, I have been getting keepsake from him in terms of his books and reading jottings in manuscript. Recently we had a detailed talk on many issullage es, which would come during this interview…

Atul K Thakur:- It’s always pleasure to be with you Sir, I would like to prolong our conversation from scratch, I mean wish to have some insights on your retro life?
Mahendra Malangia:- I was born on 20th January 1946, a year before the Indian independence in village Mlangia {then in Darbhanga district, since 1973 in Madhubani}. I went to prestigious Suri High School {G.M.S.S High School}and later to R.K.College {Madhubani}, both were the restless institution then with energetic confluence from youths with taste in different field. From college life, my inclination grew overtly for plays/drama, here I acted first time in “Himalaya ki Putri” under the direction of Ram Vilas Karak…incidentally it didn’t took off in bright mode because my arguing for some crucial snags on direction, unfortunately , director couldn’t realized it effectively . With growing interest in Maithili plays, I couldn’t restrained my temptation of writing and finally started it for then leading Maithili weekly, “Mithila Mihir”in 1960’s.
After few public appearances and published pieces, I received proper accolades that further interestingly pushed me to add “Malangia” instead of my surname because in those days, my namesakes used to be famous singer, poet etc. After a cut off from established belief in contemporary trend of direction, I left the active acting in midway for solely turned to experiment with direction. With sporadic acting and complete directional instincts, I successfully staged “Basat”,”Ugna”,’Chinni ke Laddu”{written by Ishnath Jha}-they all left good early impressions and journey begin from there…

Atul K Thakur:- You have spent your all professional years henceforth in Nepal doing government service as a very respected teacher near the great cultural region of Janakpur…how this evangelism was shaped after initial flip-flop in Indian side?
Mahendra Malangia:-My family centric or better say moral centric play “Birju,Biltu aa Babu” was published in Mithila Mihir that given me satisfaction for a high shot response following it. It was boosting for me to see such overwhelming response for progressive end that marked with the judicious wallost in material world with his chronic sacrifices for building the fortune of his brother who now found himself in different class with agnostic views for moral construct.
In late sixties, “Laxman Rekha” published in Mithila Mihir –this was based on widow remarriage as a theme in centrality; then it used to be a curse in conservative households. Leading Communist leader, Chaturanan Mishra has written a very remarkable novel “Kala”on same deform practices much before me, I also had great rapport with legendary Communist leaders from Madhubani, Bhogendra Jha and Shiv Chandra Jha{also my villager and an economist},these made positive impact on my cognition state to look after the haunting orthodox practices with progressive views. So, for a parallel career in drama, I have chosen the job of teacher with modest income in Nepal over the lucrative job at Shiva Medical Company in Kanpur after a brief stint. Here, I connected with the students and local communities, in the course of time, since things have shaped in fine fervor.

Atul K Thakur:- One of my initial impressions regarding you were come with your “Daura Suruwal “and Nepali cap clad photos in Mithila Mihir weekly. I incidentally read many of them, thanks to rich intellectual wardrobe of my family…how was your early experience in Nepal?
Mahendra Malangia:-As you know, there is identical Maithil lifestyle and language in madhesh region of Nepal ,So on cultural front, it was alright but politically Nepal was running with charged moments out of radical moves by King Mahendra. He laid strong emphasis Panchayat System that not worked out but he became able to succeed with the creation of national identity with making compulsory cap and national dress. So, my early photographs were complying {with smile} to such order. Initially, I also faced rejection of manuscripts but once published from Mithila Mihir , “Totaal tagak ekta oor”, even my all rejected manuscripts started getting due place. Success in writing and entwining with students and local folk naturally endowed me with great respect and acceptance for efforts.

Atul k Thakur:- I wish to know about your most remarkable play “Okra Aangnak Barahmasha, in my view-this is the ever best socio-economic narration of Mithila on stage. Please also share with us flavours of your other incessant meticulous works as well?
Mahendra Malangia:-Thanks for this sensible compliment. Yes, this play satisfies me most when I see things in retrospect…this plays signify the all twelve seasons with a metaphor put through folk songs. At center stage, a socio-economically deprived family appears with their fortune in our democracy; things have delineated with wider exposure to the ongoing systemic flaws and uneven making of nation. Many before me and even after written on this, but within the rural scene, there is few such example in the mode of theatre. I can’t remember exactly its stage in numerical…I always thankful for my spectator who awards me their whole lot of blessings-leading Maithili writer Vibhuti Anand have played the role of “Mallar”-father of Munnar.
Even today, we remember those special time of our creativity…lost world of Mullar in search of survival, alienation of his son to east side in Morang/Nepal and consist insensitive response of system which recently came into place with Nehruvian vision utterly failed to construct basic humane condition to most of its citizens. Over the years, conditions have improved slightly but it’s still away from early conceived goal for our democracy which is matter of grave concern. I tried to cover people’s life in their own construct, “Chhutha Ghailh”which is based on Maithili folklore backs the women’s emancipation. “Push Jaar ki Magh Jaar” was based on Pokhra tragedy/harassment, which happened with involvement of some member of Nepal’s royal family…much before the Monarchy became out of fashion, I made my opinion on its futility as an institution. It presents the disillusionment of peoples from existing political functioning.

Atul K Thakur:- Your experiment with “Saadhu Bhasha”in unusual mixed form, somewhere presents cocktail of Maithili, Awadhi, Hindi and bizarre English used to be popular among the spiritual dwellers of Janakpur, Kindly give us some clue how you mix serious stuffs in lighter presentation?
Mahendra Malangia:- {With smile…},that started with Kathak Lok{1980-81}, another play on socio-economic degeneration. It proliferated with “Original Kaam”; a play with serious message albeit lighter in presentation. I perceive dowry as socio-ethical evil, I tried to pacify this oppressive tradition in “O Khali Munh Takait Chhai”. In “Gaam nai Sutaiyai”, unemployment is central debate with adequately taking note of falling political ethics. Here desperation in mass folks shown as leverage for political class; ‘Deh par Kothi Khasha deb” is outspoken tell on consistently eroding social cohesion, here I tried to show the plight of a pale couple at locus. Such clumsy tendencies touched me as an individual as well…so, feelings appeared with words and try to change the state of affairs with pervasive inferences of social changes from whole creative construct.

Atul K Thakur:- You have never known for catty exchange of words, I mean you have an impressive track of maintaining balance ties with your contemporary and even younger chaps, how you think, is this an expedient practice?
Mahendra Malangia:- Yes, it helped me in my creative voyage, I always feel comfortable in the company of peoples. Only I have disenchantment with critics without zest for observation or reading, for an instance following the glorious revolution in 1688{Europe}; workers were forced for 12hour schedule at work that made them alien from their conventional socio-cultural fabric. Some similar things, I used in my work, protagonist in “Okar Aangnak Barah Masa” faced identical ire but for actual feelings, one needs to have the vision to see the both side of history. Uday Narayan Singh”Naciketa”, Sudhanshu Sekhar Chaudhary, Gunanath Jha and some more have done remarkable work in Maithili theatre…in younger generation, writing and direction of Ramesh Ranjan {written a memorable play, Hamra Nepal Chahi?}is noticeable, so is the commitment in direction and acting of Sunil Jha, Ram Narayan Thakur and Prakash Jha {Maithili Lok Rang}-theirs work is worth of emphatic admiration, they are doing wonderful with great persistence for learning. I wrote twenty-six short play,14-15 Drama,11 Radio play and more than 20 street play besides sporadic articles, memoir, essays.

Atul K Thakur:- I am aware about your consistent reading, here I can visualize a lot of books on history of medieval Mithila and also some modern pertinent proof, what’s your further project?
Mahendra Malangia:- Presently enroute to a book over “Varnaratnakar” {by Jyotireshwar Thakur, 14th century AD}besides in the series of adopting modern authors story, I have completed “Paanch Patra”{Harimohan Jha} and “Vilap”{Baidya Nath Mishra “Yatri”}–they also came on stage in Delhi and fetched satisfactory attention. Now I am looking to work on Surendra Nath Jha”Suman” , Dhumketu and Jeevkant-presently contemplating ways to reconstruct theirs original text to fit for stage performance. I have spent many years in close company of Dhumketu in Jnakpur, so has privilege to know him personally as well as his profound work in Maithili literature. Over the years, I have worked to form institutions, in Janakpur, so I founded Mithila Natyakala Parishad {MINAP}, in Delhi {Maithili Lok Rang}-they both are working very well in revival of Maithili drama and folk culture. Younger generation is quite accountable now for their cultural routes; it was unlikely ten-fifteen years back, so this is a welcome change which would sure boost the cultural upheaveling of Mithila region. So, now working on history gives me greater sense, I would try best to contribute more for Maithili and lastly for Indian theatres.

Atul K Thakur:- It’s always nice talking to you Sir, hope best for your further deliberations and fine time in the world of letters…
Mahendra Malangia:- Thanks a lot Atul. For me too,it’s rewarding to be in your scholaric company…very best to you too…
Atul Kumar Thakur
New Delhi, Monday, January 24,2011


  1. Interesting insight about the life and works of The greatest Maithili Playwright. I had a privilege of working in one of his plays, 'Kathak Lok' at an early age directed by Kunal for Bhangima, I played the dwarf thief.I cherish that memory.

  2. बहुत सुन्दर साक्षात्कार भेल अछि अतुल बाबू ।
    अँग्रेजी मे पहिल बेर एतेक सक्कत रूपे एलथि अछि मलंगिया जी ।
    अहाँ बधाई के पात्र छी ।

  3. A fine account of this remarkable thespian,I have been impressed with him for years,he is one among top in Indian theater and no-doubt leading name in Maithili.

  4. Most interesting reading your interview with a towering thespian.Both the narration and experience makes it wonderful..Rishav,Kathmandu

  5. Superb interview with the leading Maithili theatre figure in English.Ofcourse,this is such my ever first reading...great work-Santosh

  6. Dear Atul,
    It was a pleasure to read your interview with Mahendra Malangia. As someone not very well acquainted with the Maithil subculture in Bihar, I got interesting glimpses into it through the interview. Of course, your interview was extensive and exhaustive, and gave a thorough understanding of the man and his work.
    I am particularly impressed by your creative use of he english language, which is not conventional, and brings out possibilities in reading which might not have been possible if written in a more textbookish kind of way.
    All the best,

    PS> I guess you must be aware that Prof Kaul had a major ear surgery. Met his wife a couple of weeks back, she told us. Plan to meet him one of these days.

    Banibrata Mahanta
    Department of English
    Faculty of Arts
    Banaras Hindu University
    Varanasi 221005

  7. Great job mamashree.Really privilaged 2 hav a glance at d words of such a great servant of maithili art nd best wishes 2 u nd shri mahendra malangia...Ravi Ranjan Thakur,Janakpur

  8. great sir... shaandaar...Avinas Das

  9. so nice...Ramannath Jha,Nepal

  10. बहुत सुन्दर इन्टरव्यू लेलहुं अछि अतुल। मैथिली-सृजनशीलताक एक शिखर उंचाइ महेन्द्र मलंगिया छथिन। तिनकर व्यक्तित्व आ काज कें अहां बहुत कुशलताक संग आगू अनलहुं अछि। सब सं मह्वत्वपूर्ण थिक एकर अंग्रेजी मे प्रस्तुति। आ से एते जानदार। अहां बहुत बधाइ के पात्र छी। अहां सं मिथिला कें बहुत भरोस छै।

  11. Iliked going through this conversation...very informative indeed!
    Shweta Jha,Banglore

  12. Dear, fine peace of work and i appreciate your endeavour. it gives immense pleasure to read something attached to our root. thanks-Rajnish,New Delhi

  13. अति सुन्दर.... अतुल जी, आहां के बधाई....... मलंगिया जी मैथिल मात्र के सम्पति नहि छथि ओ त सम्पूर्ण रंगमंच के सम्पति छथि.....