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