The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Star goes drip, drip on CM

At Star theatre on Thursday afternoon, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said: “I was in school when Uttam Kumar was at his peak. I have seen most of his films...” And then, his words were drowned — by a waterfall.

No special effects at the revamped stage address, but the sound of water cascading down in the wings, to the right of the chief minister.

First, poetry. Bhattacharjee quoted Tagore with a smile: “Gagane garoje megh ghano barosha…

Then, panic. Realising that the “ghano barosha” was actually being staged indoors, flooding the electrical and sound equipment backstage, Bhattacharjee stopped his speech and called out for people from the electrical department to “avert danger”.

Within minutes, the Thursday shower had poured water on the Bengal government’s grand success story of privatisation of the arts. Five months after the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) had leased out Star to Priya Entertainment and five weeks after the new-look theatre had reopened, it had stumped the man instrumental in ringing in the change.

Cutting short his trip down celluloid memory lane, Bhattacharjee returned to his seat, asked for a cellphone from his security guard and rattled off muffled instructions at length, even as actor Soumitra Chatterjee spoke on his hero, Uttam Kumar.

On Thursday, a star-studded Star was the venue for the unveiling of a high-profile tribute to Uttam Kumar, organised by Tollywood leading man Prosenjit. But the spotlight shifted from films to the ‘flood’ fallout — a flurry of activity in civic corridors.

“Under the chief minister’s instruction, CMC officials and engineers met Arijit Dutta of Priya Entertainment to probe the incident. They have visited the site and corrective measures will be taken very soon,” CMC commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay told Metro later in the day.

At Star, there were murmurs of lack of maintenance on the part of the CMC, but the civic commissioner put it down to the common problem of “a few nuances in a private-public partnership” not being resolved.

Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya rubbished complaints of neglect. “The Corporation has done whatever maintenance work there was to be done at Star. Now it’s up to the private organisation that’s running the theatre. But the problem that occurred on Thursday will be sorted out soon,” he stressed.

The chief minister’s incidental intervention came as a relief for Priya Entertainment which has been trying to draw the CMC’s attention to some “unfinished work” at the Bidhan Sarani address.

“We had submitted a list of things to be done recently. Some glitches are surfacing at Star mainly because a large portion of the complex has not been in use for long. But now, the issues will surely be addressed,” said Dutta.

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