The IPTA logo was designed by Chittaprosad Bhattacharya

The Indian People's Theatre Association was established in 1943 by visionary artists who saw the growing need of art and culture that reflected the strivings of ordinary people and the beauty and sorrows of their lives, as a force for national liberation. From its roots in regional people's theatre groups in regional languages, the need was felt to elevate it to the national level to connect the vast masses separated by geography and language, and uphold the basic unity between them, whose articulation was sorely needed in the face of divisive imperial forces.

The formation and development of IPTA was closely tied to the All India Progressive Writers' Association, which was founded in the 30's by Sajjad Zaheer, Mulk Raj Anand, Pramod Ranjan Sengupta and others. It soon drew writers and intellectuals from all over India including Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Sadat Hasan Manto, Hiren Mukherjee, Munshi Premchand.

IPTA soon became the nurturing ground for the new wave of directors, producers, actors and musicians whose work would spread all over the world.

More on the history of IPTA can be found on their website.

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas

Still from 'Dharti Ke Lal' ('Children of the Earth'), KA Abbas. The movie was based on Bijon Bhattacharya's play 'Nabanna' ('The New Crop'). "With the missing bread as the heroine and the starving millions as the heroes, Abbas gives us a progressive picture" - FilmIndia, 1946

Stamp of India depicting Dr Kotnis, on whose life KA Abbas made a movie

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas directed not only movies like 'Dharti Ke Laal', 'Awaara', 'Saat Hindustani' which reflected the connection people had to their land and a socialist imagination of India's future, but also 'Dr Kotnis ki amar kahani' which told the story of the famous Indian doctor who took a stand for the Chinese people during the Japanese invasion. Raj Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan, two of Bollywood's most loved actors of the time, launched their careers under Abbas' direction and went on to become artists that enjoyed ordinary people's respect and affection for decades. Shambhu Mitra, the poet and playwright, played the lead role in 'Dharti ke laal'.

Actors Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, and Dev Anand with Jawaharlal Nehru

Ritwik Ghatak, a playwright, was initiated into directing movies through his deep connection with IPTA, especially Bijon Bhattacharya whose play 'Nabanna' he acted in. He is most recognized for his depiction of the pangs of the partition of India, in his movies 'Meghe Dhaka Tara', 'Komal Gandhar' and 'Subarnarekha'.

Painting of Shyam Benegal by Rajasekharan Parameswaran

Shyam Benegal was only thirteen years of age when India won independence. He belongs to the post-Independence generation of filmmakers, but his movies further the tradition of art rooted in people's lives and for the cause of national rejuvenation. His artistic renditions of historical figures include 'The Making of the Mahatma' and 'Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose: The forgotten hero'. He recently directed a biopic on the life and work on the liberation leader of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Still from 'Do Bigha Zamin', ('Two acres of land') directed by Bimal Roy based on Tagore's poem

Bimal Roy brought new life to Indian cinema with his socialist vision where the peasant's life was dramatized to show the abject poverty under colonial and feudal systems, as well as the beauty and inspiration to be found in ordinary people's lives that were capable of changing those conditions. His movies 'Do Bigha Zamin' , 'Parineeta', 'Maa' portrayed existing social realities, but also provided a way forward through struggle.

Ritwik Ghatak

The Year is organized by members of the Saturday Free School for Philosophy & Black Liberation, based in the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia, in partnership with the Gandhi Global Family.