Ratan Thiyam - the doyen of Indian theatre

Tej Hazarika applauds as Amol Palekar presents Ratan Thiyam with the prestigious National Bhupen Hazarika Award
Ratan Thiyam is considered one of the most influential figures of Indian as well as world theatre. He is known for writing and staging plays that use ancient Indian theatre traditions. He was awarded the Padmashri by the Government of India in 1989, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2012, the highest honor in the performing arts conferred by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. He is the founder-director of 'Chorus Repertory Theatre' in Imphal, Manipur. In 2013, the president of India appointed Ratan Thiyam as the chairperson of the National School of Drama (NSD) for a period of four years.

Ratan Thiyam was born on January 20, 1948 in Imphal to a family of Manipuri dance artists. Apart from painting and Hindustani classical music, he is also trained in Manipuri dance. Thiyam graduated from National School of Drama, New Delhi in 1974. He founded the Chorus Repertory Theatre in 1976 which is an important regional and national center for contemporary theatre.

Ratan Thiyam's Chorus Repertory Theatre in Imphal, Manipur
At the age of 22, Thiyam wrote and published his first novel. He went on writing many novels after that. Thiyam is famous for his most outstanding works like - Chakravyuha (The Wheel of War) which he wrote in 1984, Uttar Priyadarshi (The Final Beatitude, by Hindi playwright Agyeya) in 1996, Urubhangam and Blind Age.

In 2001 Thiyam came into the focus of public attention after he returned his "Padmashree" award to the government on India in protest against the center's announcement of an extension of Manipur’s ceasefire with the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland.

Thiyam was conferred the second National Bhupen Hazarika Award by the Pune based non-government organization 'Sarhad' in 2013. On the occasion he said, “We are adapting the chimpanzee culture. In this culture, the chimpanzee is given training in every aspect and he behaves accordingly. But the chimpanzee can never discriminate between the holy water of the Ganga and mineral water. Likewise, we are importing everything from China. Globalisation is a broom which sweeps away our individual identity”. He remembered Dr. Bhupen Hazarika and said, "I am humbled to be honoured with an award in the name of Bhupen Hazarika. He was my brother. We worked and shared many experiences of life together".

Honors
  • Appointed chairperson of the National School of Drama (NSD), 2013.
  • Bhupen Hazarika Foundation Award by Sarhad Foundation in November, 2013
  • DLit doctoral degree by Assam University in May, 2013
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (Akademi Ratna), 2012
  • Bharat Muni Samman, 2011
  • John D Rockefeller Award by Asian Cultural Council, USA, 2008
  • Kalidas Samman, 2005
  • International Man of the year in the field of Theatre and Humanism, 1998-1999
  • Diploma of Cervantino International Festival (Mexico), 1990
  • Padmashree (Padma Shri), 1989
  • Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, 1987
  • Fringe Firsts Award by Edinburgh International Festival, 1987
  • Indo-Greek Friendship Award (Greece), 1984

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