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regular-article-logo Thursday, 13 June 2024

An appeal to the electorate

Aniruddha Dasgupta clinically dissects the underbelly of Calcutta’s political ecosystem

Anshuman Bhowmick Published 25.05.24, 06:31 AM
Vote Din by 4th Bell Theatres [Source: Anshuman Bhowmick]

Vote Din by 4th Bell Theatres [Source: Anshuman Bhowmick] Sourced by the Telegraph

As we inch towards the finishing line of the ongoing general elections to select our representatives for the 18th Lok Sabha — Calcutta is all set to vote on June 1 — 4th Bell Theatres’ Vote Din took an intimate look at electoral politics in the city. This meticulously mounted 90-minute production was fresh in its approach, sincere in its intent, and democratic in its principles. It was all about the choices we make and the disappointments we tend to forget before pressing the blue button.

The playwright-director, Aniruddha Dasgupta, clinically dissected the underbelly of Calcutta’s political ecosystem, where holding onto power or wresting it from the Opposition is the sole purpose of practising politics, where ‘commission’ and ‘cut money’ decide the rules of the game, where the police and the administration are happily oblivious to the basic rights of the citizens.

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Amidst all this arrives one Ashu Bhattacharya (Rajat Ganguly), a senior teacher at a local college, who finds his true vocation in serving people, mostly through social welfare activities. The ruling party decides to take advantage of his clean image. Ashubabu overcomes his initial hesitation, takes the plunge and wins the elections, trouncing a tinsel town starlet. However, his reformist zeal and socialist dream soon turn into a nightmare. Should he give in to the demands of his partymen and become a part of the corrupt system? This middle-class dilemma formed the crux of Vote Din. Without naming any political party, Dasgupta called a spade a spade; but he did not take sides and gave a patient hearing to all the stakeholders, even the lumpen elements who earn a living from politics.

The Academy of Fine Arts show of Vote Din on May 22 was designed to make otherwise indifferent Calcutta voters take their democratic rights seriously. It fuelled brief, yet crisp, debates on brain drain, outmigration and other issues, ending with a rather idealistic statement about making an optimal choice. A flexible stage that kept transforming in accordance with Soumen Chakraborty’s lights and a youthful cast that excelled at shaking a leg to Payel Senapati’s choreography lifted the show.

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