Miller Endowment Visitor 2023-24

Suman Mukhopadhyay

George A. Miller Visiting Artist

Information about the residency (including public events) HERE

Suman Mukhopadhyay is a prominent director of theater and cinema, a writer of plays and stories, and a performer based in Kolkata, India. Since 2005, he has directed 9 feature films, of which Chaturanga (4 Parts, 2009) and Herbert (2008) have been recipients of multiple national and international awards. His films have been screened throughout Europe, Asia, and North America; his most recent film Nazarband (Captive, 2020) premiered at Busan International Film Festival. Prior to his filmmaking career, Mukhopadhyay has been a leading figure in in the Bengali stage scene. A recipient of the highest state and national awards from the Indian Drama Academy and West Bengal Theatre Academy, he has directed and performed in adaptations of Chekov, Brecht, and Max Frisch, Klaus Mann’s texts, in addition to plays based on Bengali and Hindi texts. He has been an engaged scholar and teacher of theater as well, and has taught and workshopped in various American universities, including University of California (Berkeley) and University of Toledo in Ohio.

Mukhopadhyay’s stage career began in 1990 with his direction of and performance in Janani (Mother) and an adaptation of Chekov’s “A Clerk’s Death.” His sheer spread of plays represent the work of an awe-inspiring range of authors: from Sudraka (classical Sanskrit dramatist) to Shakespeare, from Rabindranath Tagore to Ibsen and Chekov, and from Debesh Roy to Max Frisch, the list is too long to enumerate. In between directing and performing in plays in Kolkata/Calcutta and Delhi, he has trained and collaborated with actors and directors in Germany, Italy, and the US. In 2006, he directed “Man of the Heart” as an off-off-Broadway show at Kraine Theater. In the year of his debut as a filmmaker, he was the artist in residence at University of California, Berkeley, as a theater director, which shows his versatility and commitment to both art forms. His most recent engagement with both art forms was in 2022, as a Fulbright-Nehru scholar at Columbia University, awarded for academic and professional excellence.

Suman Mukhopadhyay has carved a space for himself in the crowded field of Indian filmmaking (India is the top film producing nation with an annual output of over 2,000 films) with his thoughtful choice of content and his near-flawless execution. For his first film in 2005, Suman Mukhopadhyay chose to adapt Herbert, a novel by Nabarun Bhattacharya, whose writings have only recently been inducted into the postcolonial literary canon. Mukhopadhyay returned to Bhattacharya’s writings for his 3rd and 4th film as well, which shows his sincere dedication to bold content. He has directed two films based on two of Tagore’s popular novels, Chaturanga (2008) and Shesher Kabita (The Concluding Poem, 2012), which had been considered among the most unfilmable. Chaturanga received the Grand Prix at the Sarajevo film festival, and prizes at Vancouver, Philadelphia, and New Jersey Asian film festival as well. Apart from his directorial career in cinema and the theater, Suman Mukhopadhyay has been an active and influential figure in the Indian cultural sphere. He has served in the Academic Council of the National School of Drama (New Delhi), as a member of the Expert Committee of Performing Arts at Government of India’s Ministry of Culture, a Board of Trustee Member of the Kolkata Museum of Modern Art. He was India’s cultural representative to Prague Quadrennial in 2003. He is a frequent contributor to literary and cultural columns in prominent Bengali newspapers.