Evolving from Greek architecture, open air theatres have become a typical feature of the urban landscape. It is always charming to visit an open air theatre – the grand stage, the lights, hundreds of people cheering on – the vivacious and spirited energy emanating from every nook and corner of the theatre, is a healthy dose of the ‘feeling alive’ vibe that all living souls should indulge in. Until now, the only place one could get this vibe in Kolkata was at Jadavpur University open air theatre. Uttirna, a 1968-seater amphitheatre inaugurated in April 2017 by the Chief Minister of West Bengal in Alipore, near National Library, has now been added to the list.
The first thing that will catch your fancy while approaching Uttirna through DL Khan Road is its beautiful facade done brilliantly with aluminium perforated sheets cladding. The aesthetic appeal, its first pull, will lure you into discovering an amphitheatre that stands testament to modern day architecture. The ground on which it is built, was lying barren under the tag of an ‘unused vacant land’ before the idea of transforming it into a world class open air theatre was conceived by the Chief Minister back in 2013. After the metamorphosis, the complex now houses the amphitheatre and a six-storey building that has everything from conference halls to banquet halls, office spaces, guest rooms, media centre, dormitories and even a rooftop cafe.
The lead architect of the project was Sumit Kumar Basu and the structural drawings and designs were carried out by PWD. The main stage of the theatre measures a massive 2400 sq feet. PVC chairs with UV protection, the same ones used in the now revamped Yuvabharati stadium, are fitted in for the audience.
The basement of the amphitheatre is an enormous area of 30,000 sq feet used as a back-up place in case of rain or any other environmental issues. The ground floor, which also has a food court, covers a total area of 17,000 sq feet. The banquet on the first floor has an area of 11,000 sq feet. The media centre and the dormitories are built on the second floor of the building. On the third floor, there is another banquet of 9,900 sq feet while the VIP rooms and conference halls are on the fourth floor. The icing on the cake is the open air café built on the terrace of the building, which is a magnificent piece of architecture. There are inverted umbrella canopies installed at the terrace along with polished black granite seats. At dusk the canopies and the entire terrace is dazzlingly illuminated while the unparalleled panoramic view of the city provides an unmatched experience to its visitors. All the floors are well connected through staircases and elevators and an escalator runs to and from the basement of the building. The ceiling high windows of the building have double layered, laminated spider glass to protect them from the sonic vibrations.
Even though the open air theatre has been open for more than six months, it has not yet been used for commercial purposes. Uttirna has so far hosted only government events. The first event was the Civil Service Day on April 21 where the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee felicitated the West Bengal Police as well as Kolkata Police. That was also the day when the open air theatre was inaugurated. Other events hosted so far include events by West Bengal Tourism Department and ‘Meritorious Students of the State’ felicitation programme.
Uttirna, with its state-of-the-art open air theatre and its world class amenities is ready to hold programmes and ceremonies of international stature and in the coming days is sure to become a hot bed for all cultural performances. The conference rooms and the enormous banquets should adequately serve people, looking for interesting venues to host their events. Although tariffs are not yet decided by the government, Uttirna is more than ready to woo in a massive audience, once open to public.
Area of stage: 2400 sq feet
Conference Halls: 2
Guest Rooms: 4