Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur:His Artistic Pursuits::By:Rana Jodhbir Jung

Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur – His Artistic Pursuits

By:Rana Jodhbir Jung

Roma- Yes, I could find it!

Just recall the night about a month ago when the lonely moon with a crumpled Kurta and a dirty Gamchha on its back was reciting its self- written poetry. After some time the moon got irritated for lack of audience and took shelter under my table through the window. I informed you about that dramatic night. You said I was being cheap and melodramatic. Sorry dear, it was but natural that I was not happy with your observation and perhaps to change the topic, we started discussing the dance drama- ‘Raktakarobi’ of Tagore played by Shankar Dance Academy that I enjoyed the same evening. But this piece is not to remind you of the dance drama, but what we discussed afterwards.

You, my dear- in the course of our chit-chat informed me that a book was published regarding the history of Theaters in Tripura. Without flipping a page of the book, I told you, there will not be a single sentence in the book regarding the theaters being played at Raj- Andar. As you had already gone through the book and you knew that I was right; your argument was – if the same is not documented, how could a researcher mention the same in his work? Without further arguments, as I did not want to spoil the situation- if you remember; we enjoyed Thumri of Bade Ghulam Ali on that night.

I think Roma, most of the cultured population of Tripura is only aware of the connection of the Maharajas of Tripura with Tagore and a few of them know that it was one of the Maharaja’s of Tripura, that is Maharaja Bir Chandra Manikya who was the first to recognize the poetic talent of Tagore, and he had sent one of his Ministers conveying congratulations and desiring his acquaintance. But I don’t know how many of them are actually aware that it was again a Maharaja of Tripura- Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya, who had given the last recognition to Tagore in the year 1938 and conferred the title of “Bharat Bhaskar” on his birthday.

I have come across a few who know that Maharaja Bir Chandra was an accomplished photographer. But do you know that the Maharaja used to hold a photo exhibition annually for the encouragement of the people of the state? And his activities in connection with photography attracted so much attention that “Practical Photographer” the photographic journal of America, published an illustrated biography of the Maharaja in one of its issue. You, including a few may know this. I know you are well versed with the fact that how good a painter Maharaja Birendra Kishore was as we do have an original painting of him at our residence.

But I really doubt that even you know much of the cultural activities of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore. He possessed great dramatic talents. The Maharaja’s historical drama “Joyabati” was very successfully staged at Agartala and evoked universal admiration. Regarding his literary pursuits; let me quote from the book ‘ Progressive Tripura,’ written by Apurba Chandra Bhattacharya and published in 1930- “ Like some his ( Maharaja Bir Bikram) renowned predecessors he has developed a special aptitude for literature. He wields a fascile pen and is equally efficient as a writer of prose and poetry……Some of his prose writings as also his composition in poetry and music may find a suitable place in the domain of Bengali literature…….a few of them have been printed, are confined to the members of the Raj family and some privileged people of the state” ( Page 102)

Roma, let me share a secret with you. My father Rana Lakshabir Jung, popularly known as Jani Hazoor- had actually acted in a play directed by the Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur and enacted the character of “ Moh”. Trust me. He was a kid in those days. Ok, for your belief I am mailing the photograph which I could find in the collection of my mother’s. I am also sending herewith a photograph of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore. To me he looks better and smarter than any Bollywood Hero. What do you think?

Take care!

PS:My mother told me a few days ago that on the final day of the Matriculation Exam every year, Maharaja Bir Bikram used to arrange a distribution of sweets, specially Rasogollas to each of the students. The Examination for all the candidates was taken at the Umakanta Academy. The Maharaja made it a point to remain present during the ‘Sweet distribution.’ But in 1947 when my Mother was a candidate, the Maharaja could not attend the function personally as he was sick. The Exam was delayed that year due to the World War and commenced in the month of May. The Maharaja died in the same month. But the sweets were nevertheless distributed to the candidates.

About the Author:The author writes frequently for various Newspapers  and magazines. He  has also written a book titled ‘Ha Ja Ba Ra La’ in Bengali. His relationship with the Tripura Royal family goes a long way as his Grandfather Raja Rana  Bodh Jung Bahadur was the Maternal Uncle  who served in the State as both Chief Secretary and Chief Minister.

NB:This  article was written by me in the souvenir published on the occasion of the Birth anniversary of Maharaja  Bir  Bikram  Kisore  Manikya  Bahadur.

Disclaimer:The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author.


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