The Assamese Culture is one of the richest cultures in India with various art forms starting from the Bihu dance to folk music to mobile theatres. The Assamese acting industry is known for its imprints in the realm of Assamese films with special focus on theatres.
Mobile Theatre (As: ভ্ৰাম্যমাণ থিয়েটাৰ), is a form of popular theatre limited to Assam. Unlike Street plays, as the name suggests, Mobile Theatre groups carry their belongings and travel places inside the state of Assam from villages to towns with their cast, singers, musicians, dancers and crew, also carrying their tents (most often they have two set of tents) and set them for the next performance, (more often at an interval of three to four days) as the theatre session in Assam begins from the month of August and lasts till April before the “Bohag Bihu.” As the theatre season begins, people from all over the state book their tickets way ahead of the day of stage performance. Every theatre group performs for three days with three different stories to recite and actors exchanging their roles every day. It is a lived experience, as if a movie was watched entirely on the stage and not on the screen. In order to showcase the scene transitions and to intensify the audience’s emotions during the play, two stages are constructed side by side. With the closure of one stage, the second stage reopens immediately, like two pages printed back to back on the same sheet of paper, like the sequence of scenes in a film.
There are many Assamese Mobile Theatre groups such as ‘Hengool’, ‘Kohinoor’, ‘Abahan’, ‘Bhagyadevi’, ‘Brindaban’, ‘Itihash’, ‘Rajtilak’, ‘Rajashree’, ‘Surjya’ and lot more. Among these, the Kohinoor Theatre was the initial mobile theatre group of Assam, established by Natyacharya Brajanath Sarma, in 1930. Kohinoor Theatre has been performing dramas, attracting thousands of viewers, from Dhubri to Sadiya. The first Mobile Theatre play was staged on 2 October 1963, in Pathsala. For the Assamese Mobile Theatre industry, Achyut Lahkar is considered to be the pioneer. His group, the Pathsala-based Nataraj Cine Theatre, was prominent during the early years. His productions included: Bhogjora, Tikendrajit, Beula etc. He even took Mobile Theatres to states outside of Assam such as Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh to give them additional and widespread vogue. They worked together with artists from numerous states. An industry with an annual turnover of around hundred million, the Mobile Theatre of Assam provides a source of entertainment that has progressively boosted its dignity.
Mobile theatre is becoming increasingly apparent in Assam as a forum of recreation and as a part of its public culture. In the present time, nearly sixty theatre groups conduct their plays all over the state, making mobile theatre considerably prominent and noticeable. Not only this, last year, the “Abahan Theatre” group came to execute their three days’ play in Bangalore as well. Hence, the Assamese Mobile Theatre is a unique culture and a form of art which is found exclusively in the state of Assam.