Kolkata: Shantigopal Pal, the Bengali yatra artist who is a part of the Bengali folklore, breathed his last on Monday morning at his Baranagar residence in Kolkata. He was 86 years old. Shantigopal, in a career spanning almost six decades, had played the roles of personalities such as Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, Mao Tse Tung, Salvador Allende, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Raja Rammohun Roy, Swami Vivekananda among others.
Yatra, the loud and crass theatrical play form, staged in every village, town and city of Bengal, used to mainly centre around epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata and mythological stories of the gods and the goddesses.
Shantigopal changed it all with his landmark yatrapalas like Hitler and Ami Subhash among others. There was a strong leftist influence on all his yatrapalas and his performances had an educative effect on the rural population.
The artist staged his last performance on March 7, 2012 at the age of 86.
Shantigopal became a household name and more than that. If someone prominent, whether a politician or a sportsman, failed to perform well somewhere, people would say, “Oh, it must have been Shantigopal.” Shantigopal may have died but he has carved out a permanent place for himself in Bengali language.