Pratibha Agrawal



Shrimati Pratibha Agrawal was born in Varanasi in 1930 into a family that strove to promote Hindi theatre and the Hindi language. She first appeared on the stage in 1943 in the title role of her grandfather Radha Krishna Das’s play Maharana Pratap. Shrimati Agrawal was educated at Varanasi, Calcutta, and Santiniketan, and while at Visva-Bharati had the distinction of appearing in a stage version of Premchand’s story Shatranj ke Khiladi directed by her mentor Hazari Prasad Dwivedi. In Calcutta, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, she was among the first non-professional actresses appearing in Hindi theatre, initially under the banner of Tarun Sangh, and later Anamika which she helped to establish. She also taught at Shikshayatan College in Calcutta from the mid-1950s up to 1970. From the late 1950s up to the 1990s, Shrimati Pratibha Agrawal’s career as an actress and director in Hindi theatre has run parallely with her literary life, which, though focused on drama, encompasses biogra- phy, criticism, reference works, and Hindi translations of well- known classics on social questions in Bengali. Her considerable output of plays in Hindi translation includes Ibsen’s Janata ka Shatru (1959), Tagore’s Shesh Raksha (1963), Badal Sircar’s Evam Indrajit (1969), Utpal Dutt’s Tin ki Talwar (1979), and Jayavant Dalvi’s Hurry Up, Hari (1995), to name only a few. Under the direction of Shyamanand Jalan, Shiv Kumar Joshi, Vimal Lath, and other directors, she has acted in a variety of plays by contem- porary Indian playwrights. The crowning glory in Shrimati Pratibha Agrawal’s career is the founding of the Natya Shodh Sansthan in Calcutta in 1981, which has acquired a reputation as an archiving and research centre on Indian theatre. The Sansthan celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this year. Shrimati Pratibha Agrawal is a Ratna Sadasya (1975) of the Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi. She has been honour- ed for her literary work by the Uttar Pradesh Hindi Sansthan (1989), the Madhya Pradesh Sahitya Parishad (1993), and the Bharatiya Anuvad Parishad (1997). Shrimati Pratibha Agrawal receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her overall contribution to Indian theatre.