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The art of politics: Street dramas add colour to polls

Sunday May 01, 2011 06:47:26 PM,  Anurag Dey, IANS

Kolkata: Political campaigning in West Bengal is getting an artistic touch with street plays and dance dramas being held at election rallies and cine stars also adding their glamour quotient.

At the forefront is the Communist Party of India-Marxist's (CPI-M) cultural wing, the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), which once had luminaries like Utpal Dutt and Habib Tanvir among others.

The group is staging a number of street dance, plays and docu-dramas during election rallies and meetings across the state with politically charged themes to shore up support for the Left Front, facing the toughest electoral challenge to its 34-year uninterrupted rule in the state.

One of the programmes that the IPTA has been showing is a documentary titled "Ashanto Somoy".

"It's about the violence-struck Junglemahal and how people are carrying on with life amid the bloodbath. Shot by award winning photographer Arunava Ganguly the 20-minute documentary has real shots of the people of Junglemahal," says Shankar Mukhopadhyay of the IPTA.

Junglemahal refers to the Maoist-strongholds in West Midnapore, Bakuria and Purulia districts.

The IPTA was born when writers and artists felt the need to bring theatre to the people with the objective of building awareness about social responsibility and national integration.

The Who's Who of Indian art and culture have been associated with the IPTA including Shambhu Mitra, Kaifi Azmi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Balraj Sahni, Mulkraj Anand, Pt. Ravi Shankar, Habib Tanvir, Salil Chaudhari, Harindranath Chattopadhyay, Utpal Dutt, Ritwik Ghatak, M.S. Sathyu and Farooque Shaikh among others.

IPTA's Anirban, a cultural wing, has also been staging a street drama called "Kobiyal" about a rustic poet who composes songs on people's wishes.

The drama through the songs by the poet reflects the current political scenario of the state.

"Banglar Mati", a song-drama staged regularly in Hooghly district, directed by IPTA's Hiranmoy Ghoshal, is about the current political scenario in the country and the state.

"With the common man as the protagonist, the drama is about his reactions on him meeting various political leaders. The characters wear masks of various leaders like (prime minister) Manmohan Singh, (BJP leader) L.K. Advani etc.," says Ghoshal.

Amal Chakraborty editor of magazine Anik, which has been organising a street play "Harmad" (bandit) says on the 35-minute drama, "It's a take on the term 'harmad' which has been in vogue to refer the workers of a certain political party (read CPI-M). It's about who are the actual harmads. The goons who have been looting and making the lives of innocent villagers difficult are the harmads and not the political workers."

"We have been holding daily three to four shows of the drama in Bangur, Jadavpur, Tollygunge, Canning, and Dumdum (in and around the metropolis).

"We will also stage it in Hooghly and Burdwan districts," adds Chakraborty.

Another drama organised by IPTA is titled "Shiba No. 10" and is a take on the "political drama on industrialisation" that is being played out in the state.

If the Left is banking on its cultural wing to garner support, the main opposition the Trinamool Congress has also its share of celebrities from the field of cinema and literature in its fold.

Cine stars Debashree Roy and Chiranjeet Chakraborty, theatre ace Bratya Basu, singer Anup Ghoshal are all contesting as Trinamool candidates.

Star campaigners for the Trinamool include poet-writer Joy Goswami, painter Jogen Choudhury, theatre personality Bhibas Chakroborty and singer Nachiketa.

Many of Mamata Banerjee's rallies start off with Nachiketa's rendition of pro-Trinamool songs.

Three phases of the six-phased assembly polls in the state which began April 18 are over. The polling ends May 10 and votes will be counted May 13.






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