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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Dutt's Kallol to ride the Hooghly

Forty years after it was first staged at Minerva theatre, on Beadon Street, Utpal Dutt's Kallol is headed for the Hooghly.

For six evenings starting November 7, the mutiny of Indian sailors against the British on the Arabian Sea will come alive on an off-shore stage, aided by giant screens, multimedia visuals and pre-recorded dialogues.

The project, in the final lap of the Utpal Dutt Natyotsav, has been commissioned by the state department of youth welfare to mark '60 years of victory over fascism'.

To mount the two-and-a-half-hour Gangabokshe Kallol, a stage 300 ft-by-50 ft has been erected on eight pontoons and one LCT (local carriage transport).

The oblong space has been divided into seven sets, as per the requirements of the play. Three green rooms, two at either end and one in the rear, have also been provided.

'It was minister Subhas Chakraborty's idea to stage Kallol on the river and we have been working for the past one-and-a-half months to get the project on (or rather off) the ground. I have had to lay out a dummy structure at Salt Lake stadium to give the exact space measurement for the actors to rehearse,' says stage actor Chandan Sen.

Also chief technical director of the project, Sen is supervising sets, lights, sound and videography arrangements. The stage is being built by Modern Decorators with props from Cornwallis Exchange.

Gangabokshe Kallol will involve some 150 technicians and around 60 actors, chosen from various theatre groups. 'The main hurdle has been to adapt a proscenium theatre piece on such a huge canvas. The original Kallol had used around 30 artistes, whereas our play has some 60 actors. So, the arrangement of the actors according to the space has been a challenging task,' says Samir Majumder, who has worked closely with Utpal Dutt and is now directing the play.

Since the river breeze will drown the dialogues, director Majumder has opted for a pre-recorded track. The ship capsize will be shown through multimedia. 'We are also using fight masters, as there are a few firing scenes,' adds Sen.

The seating capacity will be around 2,000, with the audience at a distance opposite the stage, in two barges and four pontoons. A four-ft-high bamboo structure will circumnavigate the audience barges. This apart, life-saving belts, divers and fire services will also be on alert for an emergency.

Considering the distance between the audience and the stage, there are two giant screens, 22 ft-by-25 ft, at both ends of the podium. Eleven cameras will catch the spectacle live.

The curtains go up on Gangabokshe Kallol every evening from November 7 to 12, after which the elaborate stage will be dismantled.

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