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Choupash Nattyanchol: Holding the cultural front

Choupash Nattyanchol, a theatre group promoting arts and culture, won Joy Bangla Youth Award 2017 for their contribution in cultural development. The award was a recognition of the group’s relentless efforts to sensitize the youth, particularly those who have distanced themselves with the rich Bangalee culture and heritage.

Raja Fakir, founder of the group, proudly says: “Joy Bangla Youth Award has recognized our four years of struggle. After receiving this prestigious award, people will be more cooperative with us. They will understand that theatre can play a good role in societal development.”

Choupash Nattyanchol was formed in 2013. At that time, the group had only a few members. Currently though, at least 50 young men and women are directly involved with the activities of Choupash. They work to raise mass awareness about societal issues by staging street plays at different places.

Considering the fact that Santahar in the district of Bogra is a very remote area, Fakir’s journey is quite inspiring. When he tried to recruit for the group, at first people did not cooperate with him. Some even cautioned him about threats from fundamentalist groups. But, he was not the kind of person to lose heart because of such obstacles and so continued his effort with a strong resolve.  Currently, the only semi-permanent place for staging their plays is the ragged old auditorium of the Santahar railway station. They are still looking for a permanent site for rehearsal and group activities.

Choupash now has a number of regular and acclaimed productions: Uipoka – inspiring youth about the spirit of Liberation War; Kutta – highlighting the different aspects of the Liberation War; Machine – making people aware about the evils of communalism; and Bohurupi – an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s work that focuses on citizen’s participation in administration. Raja Fakir himself wrote a number of plays for Choupash. He has also directed a play based on Syed Shamsul Haq’s novel Nildongshon. So far, they have staged eight street plays and six stage plays in Bogra and its vicinities. So far they have staged nine productions of their most popular play Uipoka on various occasions like the Independence Day, Victory Day, International Mother Language Day, and Bangla New Year.

In addition, they also help the local community on other issues as well. In the neighbouring Maheshpur in Naogaon, they helped rebuild a school for kids from the indigenous communities with the income generated from their stage shows. The proceeds from ticket sales usually go to a welfare fund for the members.

Now the group wants to explore new fronts to take their messages to different communities. Apart from staging plays, they have plans to make documentaries on social issues like crime, drug abuse, violence against women, etc. Lack of funding has been a major hindrance in realizing those projects. But now they are optimistic that they will have support from local and central authorities and individuals