Jostling for space between an open dumpster and shacks selling auto-parts, the entrance to 97B Kalighat Park is easily missed. But an average Sunday arrives at this South Calcutta address with a fairly elaborate to-do list. For this is where mime is nurtured amidst the stench of a public urinal and howling stray dogs outside.
Twenty odd students practice to perfect their gestures on stage while mime exponent Jogesh Dutta keeps a watch. Dubbed 'wordless wonder' Dutta is a man of few words. The septuagenarian founded the academy in 1975 to revive the 3000 year old art of Indian pantomime. Unlike other forms of theater, mime doesn't have any written script. The performer enacts plays through gestures and facial contortions.
Being a silent art form, it attracts students who are deaf and dumb. But it is difficult to etch out a career as a mime artist in India. Most practitioners have day jobs and see mime as a labour of love. However a chosen few struggle to nurture the dying art within the dilapidated confines of Jogesh Mime Academy.