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Bengal folk theatre echoes Mamata's 'Delhi Chalo' dream


IANS Kolkata
A folk theatre or Jatra troupe in West Bengal is travelling to all corners of the state staging a production that highlights Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's ambitions to play a big role in national politics after the Lok Sabha polls.
The production, 'Mamatar Daake Dilli Chalo' (Mamata Beckons, March to Delhi), is holding sell-out shows in far off villages and towns coinciding with the election campaign.
Jatra (in Bengali) or folk theatre is a popular art form in Bengal even in this digital age. Known for its loud and melodramatic delivery on stage, it brings alive productions ranging from historical or mythological subjects to social drama.
Also portrayed are current events having a traction with its captive audience.
The production by Lokbandana Opera depicts Banerjee's political journey with the climactic scene bringing out her ultimate dream of 'Delhi Chalo'.
"The shows have started post-Diwali and will continue close to the elections. The play shows Didi's (Banerjee) entire journey stressing on the January 19 Brigade Parade ground rally where she gathered the opposition political leaders," Sita Ghosh, who plays the Bengal Chief Minister in the Jatra, told IANS.
Ghosh, 49, has been associated with Jatra since childhood. She earlier worked with Notto Company, one of the best known Jatra troupes. She has stepped into the shoes of Banerjee on stage twice in the past.
Her work 'Maa Maatir Lorai' showed Banerjee's struggle in her initial political career and 'Banglar Masnad-e-Mamata' (Mamata on Bengal's throne) was staged after she became the Chief Minister in 2011 after ending 34 years of CPI-M led Left Front rule.
Asked about the special preparations she had to take for the present role, Ghosh said: "This time it is different as she is the Chief Minister now and she is also aspiring to be the Prime Minister. It is a matter of pride for me to get into all the nuances and play the role.
"I am no longer an ordinary person. On stage I am the CM and I get a different voice," the Kolkata resident said.
The theatre veteran feels the things a person cannot say otherwise can be enacted on stage.
The troupe has been visiting various parts of the state. She is looking forward to shows in Bardhaman district and other places.
The protagonist revealed that the production has Trinamoool's backing. She also appreciated the government's support for Jatra artistes.
"Before coming up with the production we had to take permission as it talks about Didi," she said.
Ghosh mentioned that as the play throughout talks about Banerjee, the Trinamool members are showing interest in it. Also, the shows are pulling a huge number of audiences.
"There is a different flavour in Jatra. But working on a political play is very different from other productions. Now I am familiar with various details of our CM," she added.

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First Published: Mar 30 2019 | 12:44 PM IST

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