Elangbam Joychandra Singh was the founder of National Training Drama Party (Manipur Artist Touring Party) and a Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee
By BC Rajkumar
Life’s journey of Shri Elangbam Joychandra Singh itself is a fulfilling genuine drama as much as he wished to be known as a dramatist; hard to describe and his love for drama had carried him so long from childhood till he left all of us silently, but suddenly on May 24, 2021, amid pandemic confusion.
Born in 1927 and under his able leadership and patronage the National Training Drama Party was established in 1949, fondly known as ‘Joy Drama’ and later Manipur Artist Touring Party. Establishing his own drama party was a fulfilling childhood dream. Indeed, the theatre was his childhood passion and lifelong profession and companion.
The drama party did not have any permanent hall. His approach to the drama was to reach out to the people at far-flung places and Manipuri diasporas settled outside Manipur by touring and performing on temporary stages; the first of its kind in Manipur. Thus, he had a larger audience and viewers.
He was a dramatist, actor, director, singer, and composer. With all these qualities, he could maneuver and perform his creative arts by dint of his love for drama, approach with a positive frame of mind, hard work, strong willpower to achieve, despite his limited physical mobility as he was differently-abled (orthopedically). His man-management and organising capacity were truly remarkable. He faced life boldly and took life as a challenge. In the long run, he achieved what he wanted to prove.
The themes of his dramas were based on social realities, historical plays, or writings of Manipur. In recognition of his outstanding performance, several times he won awards in All Manipur Drama Festivals. On March 1, 2007, he was honoured with Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards at the national level for his outstanding contribution. The award was presented by APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India in the presence of distinguished personalities at Kamani Auditorium, Delhi.
He has left an everlasting impression in the spectators’ hearts, which is hard to erase. We have lost a distinguished exponent in art and culture and his indomitable spirit; a great void for all particularly for Manipur which is hard to fill up, and a loss forever – a drama/theatre called “Joy drama”.
(By BC Rajkumar is former General Manager, CIL)