The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mix of philosophy & politics on stage

From creating a storm by scripting one of the most controversial contemporary theatres, Winkle Twinkle, to directing a mainstream commercial Bengali film — young writer-director Bratya Basu has made a mark for himself.

Come July 23, Basu’s latest production, Virus-M, will be staged at Academy of Fine Arts. The “philo-political play” will be staged as part of a six-day theatre festival, organised by 24-year-old theatre group Ganakrishti.

“The theatre festival is an annual event in our roster, where we send invitations to groups from India and abroad to come and perform in Calcutta. This year, we are getting groups from Lucknow, Mumbai, Aurangabad and Berhampore to stage their productions before the Calcutta audience,” says Basu, director of the group.

Besides showcasing theatre talents from other parts of the country, the six-day festivities between July 23 and 28 will also include felicitation of five “extraordinary achievers” from the field of art and culture. The list includes lyricist Gulzar, singer Suchitra Mitra, painter Ramananda Bandyopadhyay, writer Mahesveta Devi and theatre personality Prasannan.

For the writer of Winkle Twinkle — that drew both praise and protest —Virus-M is a different experiment with a very strong star-cast. The cast includes Manasi Sinha, Debshankar Haldar, Pijush Ganguly and Soumitra Mitra.

Winkle Twinkle was a hit for its apparent anti-Left tone, which people liked. But in Virus-M — here M doesn’t stand for Marxism — the attempt is to look at the civil society and address the question of ways to ensure development of mankind,” explains the young director.

Though sticking to the anti-Left line would have ensured a runaway success, Basu makes it clear that he doesn’t want to be branded as someone who showcases “individual’s mistakes” to criticise the political establishment. He is keen on experimenting.

“Recently I directed a Bengali film, Raasta. For me, it’s purely a commercial film where we have tried to portray the underworld in Calcutta. It’s in the post-production stage and will be released during the Pujas,” adds Basu, excited about his maiden movie venture. Besides two newcomers Amitava and Rimjhim, the cast includes Mithun Chakraborty, Raghuvir Yadav and Dolon Roy.

According to Basu, though theatre is one of the best forms of communication, the art is badly in need of support. With corporate sponsorship slowly seeping in, he hopes that the state of affairs in the world of theatre will change.

“It’s good that corporates are showing interest in theatre. In my opinion, without support, this art can’t survive on its own,” says Basu, who is confident to rope in a sponsor for his Virus-M.

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