In Praise of Niranjan: Islam, Theatre and Bangladesh

This book is in praise of Nirañjan, “He who is stainless”, by extension, of everything that is pure and unblemished. Performers of Islamic genres in Bangladesh sometimes offer their salutations to Nirañjan. Hence the title of this book. By choosing to name it thus, the author is conscious of taking a distinct ideological stand.

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About The Author

Syed Jamil Ahmed

Syed Jamil Ahmed is a directior and designer in Theatre and Associate Professor at the Department of Theatre and Music, University of Dhaka. Born in 1955, he graduated from the National School of Drama (New Delhi, India) in 1978, earned his MA in Theatre from the University of Warwick (Coventry, England) in 1989 and his Ph.D. from the University of Dhaka (Bangladesh) in 1997. His reputation is well established as a director with credits such as Chaka (Dhaka), Bisad Sndhu (Dhaka), Ek Hazar Aur Ek Thi Rate (Karachi) and also as a designer with credits such as Achalayatan (Dhaka), Kittankhola (Dhaka), Keramat Mangal (Dhaka), Good Woman of Setzuan (Calcutta). The distinction of his work is in the sharp contemporary relevance he succeeds in providing to ‘traditional’ material, and his poetic the blending of Euro-American theatre practice with elements drawn from the indigenous theatre of Bangladesh in particular and Asian theatre in general. The founding chair of his department, Jamil Ahmed has number of research papers, and two books on indigenous theatre of Bangladesh (Achinpakhi Infinity : Indigenous Theatre of Bangladesh and Hajar Bachar: Bangladesher Natak O Natyakala). He has travelled extensively in Aisa, Europe and North America, where he has tought, given seminars and workshops.

Amidst the clamorous wrangling of the politicians of Bangladesh, against the myopic vision of the fundamentalists, against also those liberal intellectuals who shun Islamic overtones for fear of being outdated, this book should speak for those countless and nameless performers who have offered their praise for Nirañjan in their performances. They have their own answers to the questions related to Islam and theatre. Contents : Introduction, Theatre and Islam, Indigenous Theatre in the Islamic World, Islamic Performances in Bangladesh, Karbala Legend Today The Case of Bisad Sindhu, Transcultural Mutations of A Thousand and One Nights and Its Contemporary Relevance, Conclusion, Appendix : The Thousand and One Nights.


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