The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha slew of sops for stage uplift

Taking a break from non-stop business talk, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee played a part closer to his heart on Sunday. On stage for the third Natyamela at the Nandan-Rabindra Sadan complex, the chief minister announced that the government would soon throw open the doors of the new-look Minerva theatre, after taking it over.

The government, he said, had also decided to waive taxes on tickets priced up to Rs 60 for theatre and Rs 40 for jatra. Earlier, the tax exemption applied only to tickets priced at Rs 40 for theatre and Rs 25 for jatra.

“I hope this will help a bit,” said the chief minister, while declaring the Natyamela open.

Apart from the tax waiver, Bhattacharjee confirmed that an office of the Paschim Banga Natya Akademi would soon be set up.

Expressing “joy” that about 80 groups from all over the state, involving nearly 2,000 people associated with theatre, would participate in the event, comprising street theatre, debates, quizzes, seminars and songs, the chief minister said: “There are plenty of problems engulfing us and I wonder how one can overcome them… But all these 2,000 people have made theatre a part of their lives amidst all the crises… Theatre maaney jibon niye torko, theatre maaney shopno dekha (Theatre means a debate on life, it means dreaming).”

Bhattacharjee clarified that the impetus for theatre would not be “political”, since “pluralism” was the Bengal byword. Elaborating on this, he said: “I was recently asked why I never stopped Praveen Togadia and K.S. Sudarshan from coming to Bengal, like Bihar did. I said that I didn’t want to follow Bihar. Their coming here cannot change Bengal. The faith of the people here will blow the likes of Togadia away.”

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