Jyoti Basu is going to come alive on stage later this month with a prominent jatra (folk opera) group mounting a production on the Marxist legend touching the last 40 years of his eventful life.
Titled ‘Alor Sikha Amar Jyoti’, the jatra, scheduled to roll out in end-February, will begin with his death on January 17 and then goes back 40 years to 1972 when the mass leader engaged in confrontation with the Congress at Baranagar in the city’s northern fringe.
The manager of the jatra company ‘Anjali Opera’, Prashanta Goswami, told PTI candidly that he wants to cash in on the wave of popularity post the death of the leader, with a near-hysteric crowd attending his funeral procession and the media frenzy.
“The facts will be presented through the voice of a ’journalist character’ who having known Mr. Basu for a long time will chronicle the landmark events in the leader’s life which will then be enacted,” Mr. Goswami said.
After touching Mr. Basu’s stint as opposition leader in the early 70s, his coming to power with a massive popular mandate in 1977, his historic public meeting following the rout of Congress and his stint in Writers Building from the late 70s till 2000 will all find place in the over three-hour-long play.
The jatra will also highlight Mr. Basu’s landmark political decisions like land reforms and panchayat body elections which brought about a revolutionary change in agrarian rural Bengal.
The talented small screen actor Gouri Shankar Panda will essay the role of the former CM, who was known to be a thorough gentleman as well as a strict disciplinarian.
“We will touch upon his personal equation with leaders like diehard opponent Mamata Banerjee, Pranab Mukherjee, Sonia Gandhi and others among a galaxy of personalities that the leader had come in contact with in different stages of his life,” Mr. Goswami said.
He answered the question as to how will controversies surrounding Mr. Basu’s long rule in the state be dealt with, by saying that the jatra would be “acceptable to all sections of people” and the objective of the play is to highlight the leader’s “towering personality“.
As the journalist-chronicler would touch on Mr. Basu’s relation with the media, many little known incidents revealing a different Basu would unfold, Mr. Goswami promised.
The character of Mr. Basu’s close friend and bitter political rival Siddhartha Shankar Roy will be a pivotal in the play.
The play has already received at least 18 bookings from all parts of Bengal - from Dinhata and Siliguri to places like Keshpur, Naradole, Gangajalbati in Maoist-hit Bankura and Bhagabangola in Trinamool-run East Midnapore district for the busy season between February and March.
While the inaugural show will be staged at Phanibusan Jatra Manch in Kolkata in end—February.
Mr. Goswami claimed he and the script writer had sheafed through a plethora of books, articles and documentaries before getting down to write the script.