Coal hub Asansol lies 200 km away from Calcutta, but for pandal-hoppers of the city, life in a colliery will come alive this Puja at a south Calcutta pandal.
Santhals, in their colliery uniforms, will descend into the mine in a lift and dig coal for the viewers. The shows, each lasting around 10 minutes, will continue from dusk to dawn at Aaikatan’s pandal in Dhakuria. The stage will be modelled after Sheldon Colliery, in Asansol, with Susunia Hills in the background.
“Our theme is based on Tagore’s Raktakarabi and Utpal Dutt’s Angaar,” explained Sankar Majumdar, president of Aaikatan’s puja committee. “We will try to capture the life of labourers in a colliery,” he added. The show, with light and sound effects, will cover the start of day for the labourer to his hazardous job in the mine. The characters from Angaar — Binu, Dinanath, Hafiz, Ramjan, Rupa and others — will be played by a team from Jharkhand and Santhal Parganas.
A wooden lift, operated by pulleys, will descend into the mine pit with the Santhal labourers. “Some of them are actual miners, while others are amateur actors who peddle goods in the rural areas,” an official of the puja committee said.
Labourers’ quarters will be erected with tin sheets, iron beams and wood. “There will be no pandal. Instead, the image will be kept in a room resembling a community hall at a colliery,” an official said.
A two-member team of the organisers, with theme-maker Swapan Paul, visited Sheldon Colliery earlier. During their two-day stay, they took photographs of the colliery and learnt the technical details of the functioning in the pits.
“The Sheldon Colliery officials filled us in with the details so we could make the show realistic. They even provided us with the colliery uniforms,” Sankar Majumdar said.
It took nearly a month for the organisers to set up the stage, complete with the tin-shed houses, a drain, a machine room and a security room. Fire-fighting drills and a ropeway will add to the attraction of the show.