Kolkata: A defiance born from the rough and tumble of the streets, a long struggle against an entrenched power system, a stunning blow to the world's longest serving elected Communist government...the script of Mamata Banerjee's life would do any Greek dramatist proud. It will now be depicted in a jatra, West Bengal's popular folk theatre form.
Titled "Banglar Kshamatay Eibar Mamata" (Mamata-Now at the Helm in Bengal), the play on the Trinamool Congress chief will be directed by Kanak Bhattacharya, who has been associated with top Bengali film stars like Tapas Pal, Shatabdi Roy and Rachana Banerjee.
"It is my humble way of thanking the leader who has always stood up for the poor and the oppressed," said Bhattacharya, who had planned the jatra well before the assembly polls in West Bengal, where the Trinamool ended the 34-year-long reign of the Left Front.
"After I came out with an advertisement in a Bengali daily March 8, the response I got was tremendous. If there were people who congratulated and wished me for my idea, then there were others who would threaten me with dire consequences. I would often be asked how I could plan such a drama when the polls were yet to start," he told IANS.
"I replied it's my gut feeling, my intuition. I had taken a big risk - if she had lost, I would have been ruined. But, fortunately, everything turned out well. Usually such dramas are enacted after people have won, but I did it much in advance; so it was a kind of gamble," he said.
Mamata Banerjee, who still lives in a bylane of the congested Kalighat locality of Kolkata, will be the first woman chief minister of the state.
On the theme of the drama, Bhattacharya said: "It's about Banerjee's political struggle, her political life. How did she reach the ultimate glory? From the attack on her at the Hazra crossing to her giant killing act of defeating Somnath Chaterjee as well as how she was dragged out of the Writers' Buildings by policemen, all will be included."
Banerjee had made people sit up and take notice when she upset Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) heavyweight Somnath Chatterjee in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections from Jadavpur constituency.
In 1992, Banerjee, then a union minister, had stormed the state secretariat, the Writers' Buildings, dragging a rape victim along. In the then chief minister Jyoti Basu's absence, she sat on the floor in front of his chamber, demanding a meeting with him.
After three hours of persuasion failed, police personnel forcibly lifted Mamata and bundled her out of the building.
Bhattacharya said he had bought two books on the life of Banerjee, 57, for the script that is yet to be finalised.
Although most of the actors are more or less finalised, the actress for the lead role is yet to confirmed.
"I have some names in my mind, like Srila Mazumdar, Aparajita Auddy, Angana Bose and Ruma Chakraborty. I cannot say now who will finally play the role," Bhattacharya said.
When contacted, Srila Mazumdar told IANS: "I have no problem playing the role provided the script is appealing."
However, well-known tele-actress Aparajita Auddy declined to play the role. "I am not interested in doing jatra. The director had approached me, but I do not want to perform in jatra," Auddy told IANS.
Bhattacharya also said Banerjee's agitation against forcible acquisition of land in Singur and Nandigram will be the centrepiece of the play. The three-hour long play would culminate with her getting the chief minister's chair.
The director, who is working day and night on the play, is yet to inform Banerjee. "I haven't informed her yet, but I will invite her at the inaugural show," he said.
The first show is planned for Aug 15.
"It was the day when India got independence. As Bengal is also now independent, I have chosen that day," added Bhattacharya, talking on the same lines as Banerjee who had said soon after defeating the Left Front that Bengal had found freedom again.