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Noted playwright and actor Achyut Lahkhar, the doyen of Assam’s mobile theater movement passed away last month the 12th of June 2016 long period of illness at his home in Pathsala, Assam. He was 85. Lakhar was the father of the Bhryamyman or Mobile Theatre of Assam and gave birth to mobile theater in Assam in the 1960s
Born in 1931 at Pathsala, Lakhar was a theater enthusiast since his childhood days. Apart from his interest in directing plays, he was also an actor and a dramatist. He founded the Nataraj Theater in 1963, the first mobile theater in Assam which later went on to perform in various parts of Assam and also around the country.
Mobile theater has been an integral part of Assamese culture since them. Achyut Lahkar introduced several new things to the mobile theater movement of Assam. The mobile theater of Assam has helped in preserving indigenous folk tales and has added to the cultural environment of the state. Even today many theater groups in Assam follow the policies that were laid by Lakhar’s Nataraj Theatre all those years ago.
Lakhar’s brother Sada Lakhar had a lot of influence when he was young. Sada Lakhar’s Opera was very popular and their mother wasn’t at all happy. Sada Lakhar was even considered a black sheep and did not pay much heed to what his family had to say. It was then that Achyut Lakhar who was then stationed in Kolkata and the editor of a magazine named Dipawali was summoned back hope through an urgent telegram. The mother hoped the younger brother to knock some sense in the elder Sada Lakhar’s mind. But destiny had something else in mind and Achyut Lakhar dropped the idea of going back to Kolkata. He instead took over the reins of his brother’s Opera and the rest is history. Ratna Ojha share’s this tale in Bhramyoman Theateor Dhemali- Nandi.
For his tremendous contribution to Assamese theater and culture Lakhar was awarded the Kamal Kumari National Award (1997), Mancha Prabhakar Award, Bhaben Barua Award and Braja Nath Sarma Award.
Lakhar’s death was mourned by the artists, commoners, and leaders of Assam. The Father of Assamese Mobile Theatre will be missed by theater enthusiasts.